The winning dish at the Dublin City School District's third annual student chef cook-off was inspired by a love of Japanese culture.

This year's competition was held at Dublin Jerome High School teams from Jerome and Dublin Coffman High School participated.

Student Ethan Seifert, 17, said he spent a couple days searching for recipe ideas before realizing he really liked his girlfriend's yakisoba, a dish he described as flavorful and ingredient-filled and similar to lo mein.

Since Seifert and his cook-off teammate Raena Drotleff, 18, take Japanese for their language arts class, their group decided the dish would be a perfect fit, he said.

"We wanted to explore more Japanese culture," he said.

The trio, comprised of Jerome seniors Seifert, Drotleff and 17-year-old Zachary Ettrich, modified an online recipe, changing the portion size and using tofu instead of chicken. After a 30-minute prep time, their dish won.

Seifert, Drotleff and Ettrich's team -- named Emo Grandpa -- was one of four teams competing April 25 at Jerome High School.

The event is sponsored by the district's food service provider, Chartwells, and was designed to promote nutrition and food education.

The cook-off allows students to express their creativity and joy of cooking while learning new skills and engaging in friendly competition, said Todd Hoadley, Dublin's superintendent .

"I love this event," he said.

Two Jerome teams and two Coffman three-person teams squared off against each other, preparing food with guidance from mentor chefs.

In addition to Emo Grandpa's yakisoba, prepared dishes also included chicken parmesan, turkey burgers and chicken alfredo.

Two student judges and four celebrity judges evaluated the dishes on criteria including sanitation, creativity, taste, visual attractiveness, perceived healthiness and teamwork. Celebrity judges included Columbus Dispatch Food Editor Lisa Abraham, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants Senior Vice President of Operations Charles Kline, City Barbecue Human Resources Director Jen Hamilton and WBNS 10TV News Anchor Jeff Hogan.

It was Hogan's second year judging the cook-off, and he said he most enjoys seeing the students' creativity, along with learning what they consider healthy and unique.

Hogan said he also enjoyed seeing how students' teamwork impacts the final product, and how the meal ultimately tastes.

"That's the best part," Hogan said.

Jerome senior Kamerin Cerrato, 18, made chicken parmesan with the help of her two teammates. She said she enjoyed the opportunity to choose her team members and make a dish of their choosing.

"I like that it's kind of like a surprise," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah