COARSEGOLD – Meagan Rich has been comfortable in the kitchen since she was just a little kid. Now 13, the clever chef has created a recipe for ravioli that could turn out to be worth a whopping $45,000.
The Rivergold 8th grader is one of 25 finalists nationwide in the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, a competition for young aspiring chefs, sponsored by Uncle Ben’s Brand rice.
Five grand prize winners, chosen based on online vote totals, will receive $15,000 in cash, a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for their school and a hometown celebration attended by celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Meagan beat out nearly 400 other kids to make it to the finals with her signature dish: chicken and rice raviolis. Her mom wasn’t too keen on the idea at first because she’s trained to sniff out the carb redundancy of rice and pasta together. Meagan thought it was a great plan to pair tummy-pleasing chicken and rice inside a perfect little delivery system of ravioli, and the folks at Ben’s agree.
“I will never underestimate my daughter again,” said mom Molly once Meagan’s dish was chosen as a finalist. “This is her moment and her time to shine.” Luckily, Meagan’s siblings were available for taste-testing.
Meagan is the oldest of three, including sister Emily, 11, and brother Cody, 8. Her dad Terry teaches full time at Rivergold, where her mom is a sub. Since Meagan was made a finalist in the nationwide contest, Molly is spending free time functioning as Meagan’s “momager,” or mom-manager, because the youngster is receiving so much attention surrounding her bid for the big Ben prize.
According to Uncle Ben’s Web site, the cooking contest encourages healthy eating while empowering parents to “connect with their children one meal at a time.”
Meagan has been cooking with her mama since the get-go, and Molly even started their own cooking school, Crumbs Cooking Academy for Kids, to accomodate her daughter’s appetite for culinary arts. Recently, Molly started another business making custom cakes, truffles and other delicious creations. The name of the outfit fittingly combines mom’s name with Meagan’s middle name, the result being Sweet Molly May.
Back at Rivergold, Meagan is the ASB Vice-President of her 8th grade class, but at home you can call her “Chef.” She’s leapt to fame quicker than a quick dough can rise, and her new-found popularity is just what our local needs to win this contest that is driven by the number of votes she receives online.
“We are so thankful for all the support from the community,” says long-time Yosemite Lakes Park resident Molly of the votes they’ve received so far. Meagan is terrificly confiden and poised in her appearance on camera in the cooking contest video (her dad makes a funny cameo appearance) and will appear on KMPH television channel 26 in Fresno on Tuesday, Nov. 25, in a live cooking demonstration of her soon-to-be-famous chicken and rice raviolis. That’s one day before the contest ends.
To cast a ballot in support of Meagan, visit the Ben’s Beginners website. Voting is limited to one vote per person per day through Nov. 26. Winners will be selected in early- to mid-December.
What are you waiting for? Vote Meagan for Ravioli We Can All Agree On!