A Kenosha fifth grader has a shot at winning a national recipe competition – and scoring a much-needed makeover for the cafeteria at All Saints Catholic School.
Grace Bevec, 10, has always loved to cook with her mom, Linda. So when Linda saw an ad for the Uncle Ben’s “Ben’s Beginners” contest – whose grand prize is a $30,000 makeover for the winner’s school – she immediately thought of her daughter.
“It was just a no-brainer that we would give it a try,” said Linda. “She’s always been a big helper in the kitchen. Grace, since she was really little – like 2, 3 years old – would help chop, crack eggs. She took initiative, too, tried new things. She got her own pink KitchenAid mixer last year for Christmas.”
Linda forwarded the contest information to Jackie Lichter, principal at All Saints Catholic School, where Grace is a student. Lichter encouraged school families to consider entering. Four students eventually submitted videos to the competition in late October, along with some 300 others nationwide, but “Amazing Gracie’s Pork, Veggie and Rice Lettuce Wraps” was the only one to be selected as one of the 25 finalists.
“I thought it would be fun to do, because I like to cook,” said Grace of the contest. When she heard she was a finalist, “it just felt really exciting, because I didn’t really expect that I would get to the top 25, so it was exciting and unexpected.”
Now the All Saints community is rallying around Grace and her Asian-style wraps before voting closes on Nov. 30. Lichter reports the school community is enthusiastic about the prospect of an update for the cafeteria at the school’s south campus, where Grace attends.
“The cafeteria really needs it – it still has the sponge painting on it that was big in the 80s!” said Lichter. “We’d love to have a little school
to vote for grace bevec’s
“Amazing Gracie’s Pork, Veggie and Rice Lettuce Wraps,” visit unclebens.com. Visit the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest section, enter Grace and click the search icon. Once you locate her video, click the ‘vote’ button.
store down in the cafeteria. Grace is a very healthy eater so she wants to have a large salad bar for students to have choice of fruits and vegetables.”
The lettuce wrap recipe is Grace’s own invention, inspired by a recent trip to the Cheesecake Factory.
“We wanted to focus on healthy, nutritious eating. We had tried some lettuce wraps at the Cheesecake Factory a while back and the kids thought they were really good. We found a recipe that was just pork and some veggies – and we thought, what if we added rice to it?” said Linda. Grace suggested adding the sauce from one of her mother’s favorite crock pot recipes and something to add a little “crunch” – chow mein noodles or peanuts to top it off.
On Friday, Nov. 20, All Saints students wore orange, the school color, in a show of support for Grace. They also brought scores of packets of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice to school to donate to a local day shelter. The impromptu food drive was Grace’s idea; she was inspired by stories of the at-risk and homeless population her mother works with in her job at the Kenosha Housing Authority.
Also on Friday, Grace got to meet with Kenosha mayor Keith Bosman, along with Linda and Lichter. If her recipe is chosen as one of the contest’s five best, it could be big news for Kenosha, too – the winner is treated to a hometown celebration. The grand prize also includes $15,000 for the winner to spend as he or she chooses.
So what would Grace do with all that cash?
“Probably donate a third to a charity, put a third of it in my college fund, and then use the other third to do something,” she said.
Grace admitted the attention from the contest has been a bit overwhelming at times, but that her friends at school “think it’s cool, and they always tell me that they’re voting at home, and they’re telling their friends to vote,” she said.
Voting only accounts for 25 percent of the final score – other factors include the entrant’s personality in his or her submission video as well as the amount of local media buzz they are able to generate about the contest.
Win or lose, the competition has proven to be an exciting diversion for students at All Saints, said Lichter.
“It’s been fun for our school – the kids are all involved. They’ve learned what a device is now, because I said you can vote on multiple devices, so the 4-year-olds are going home – ‘How many devices do we have in our house?’ It’s been darling,” she said. “It’s been really fun for us.”