HELL'S KITCHEN — Danielle Rivers usually lets her mom do the cooking, while she bakes — but for $5,000 she figured she could bust out the pots and pans and try creating her own dinner recipe.
The 17-year-old Food and Finance High School senior recently won first place in a national recipe contest with a meatless pasta dish, netting her a $5,000 scholarship and an all-inclusive trip to a Canyon Ranch resort to learn healthy cooking techniques from Chef Scott Uehlein.
Rivers' pappardelle with mushrooms, baby spinach and roasted tomato sauce was the top pick in the national Healthy Pasta Recipe Contest for high school seniors put on by Meatless Monday and the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, a nonprofit organization that brings culinary programs to schools.
"I wanted to have mushroom and spinach because those are my favorites — and the mushrooms would give the taste of meat that wouldn't be in the recipe," Rivers said.
"Then there's tomatoes, pasta, garlic, onion — and mozzarella cheese, you've got to have the cheese."
The prize money will help Rivers, who lives in Brooklyn, attend the baking and pastry arts and business management program at SUNY's Alfred State this year.
"My mom doesn't have a job at the moment, so I knew money would be a problem for going to college," she said. "This really helps."
Food and Finance High School trains students in all kinds of culinary-related fields, from cooking and baking to lessons on how to grow fish and vegetables indoors. Rivers refined the recipe with her teacher, Adrienne Terzuoli, before submitting it in November.
The Careers through Culinary Arts Program, which published Rivers' winning recipe on its website, has introduced thousands of high school seniors across the country to its Meatless Monday campaign, hoping to teach them about starting the week with a healthy meal and encouraging them to try new fruits, veggies, grains and legumes.