Northlake library crowns ‘Chocolate Iron Chef’
Lily Rivera, 5, of Franklin Park works on her creation at the Chocolate Iron Chef event at the Northlake Public Library on Monday, Feb. 4. | Natasha Wasinski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:08AM
NORTHLAKE — Jesse Vasquez carefully constructed a replica Mayan temple Monday night, using caramel to piece together the marshmallow and graham cracker tower.
“These are the people,” he said of the round red cinnamon candies on top.
Vasquez and other children created sweet and sticky desserts at Northlake Public Library on Monday, Feb. 4 in hopes of being named the “Chocolate Iron Chef.”
Adult/teen services librarian Tyler Works said the no-bake contest was part of the library’s do-it-yourself programming that enhances creativity and sensory skills.
Plus, food is an easy and fun way to get young patrons involved. In December the library dedicated its holiday craft to decorating donuts.
“We noticed that food stuff can draw people in,” Works said.
He gave the kid chefs platefuls of snack foods and toppings like sprinkles and strawberry syrup with one instruction: to build the “most delicious, creative and coolest” treats.
Jill Jimenez, 12, of Northlake drizzled caramel and chocolate over what she called a marshmallow “mushroom forest.”
Rebeca Diaz, curious about the brand of chocolate syrup, said there was no way to go wrong with the ingredient.
“To be honest, Mr. Tyler, all chocolate is good,” said the 9-year-old Stone Park resident.
“I’ll eat anything that I’m offered,” agreed her sister, Abi, 10.
The youngest chefs opted for lots of chocolate and sprinkles, creating colorful hodgepodges of sugar. Fourteen-year-old Ezequiel Rivera followed the philosophy that less is more.
He used caramel and chocolate sparingly on his edible art.
“Mine’s a masterpiece but I can’t eat my art,” said Rivera, of Franklin Park.
He added: “Somebody who would eat this would probably have a sugar rush.”
In the end, it was 17-year-old Emily Jimenez’s tipi-like creation balancing a pretzel rod with marshmallows that won the children judges over. She received a heart-shaped box of candy for being named the “Chocolate Iron Chef,” and all contestants were invited to eat or bring home their treats.
Jimenez said she learned to enjoy baking in school and from her mother, though chocolate isn’t always her go-to ingredient.
Her specialty? Pie.
“Her apple pie is so good,” vouched her younger sister Jill.