PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — Three Peoria public schools fifth graders flexed their cooking muscles in the kitchen Saturday at the Future Chefs competition.

It’s part of the 9th annual Future Chefs competition at Woodruff High School.

Foodservice general manager for Peoria public schools Mark Streamer said it’s never too early to teach kids how to cook.

“It’s a skill, it’s a career that can go anywhere, those core competencies can go anywhere in the world,” said Streamer.

Saturday’s competition’s theme was fruit and vegetable side dishes. Dietetic student Shiann Graham said focusing on the nutritional aspect of culinary arts is an essential aspect.

“I think it’s also important for kids or just anyone to have more experience with food so having the kids here doing that is great and it’s important too,” said Graham.

Each future chef was accompanied by a high school-aged sous chef to help with the cooking process.

Bernie Cox is a senior at Richwoods high school and said he found his passion for cooking by watching his grandma work her magic in the kitchen.

“I liked watching my grandma cook, every Sunday she cooks dinner for us and I always loved being in the kitchen cooking with her, following her instructions, and listening to what she said,” said Cox.