'Little Chef' serves up good food for a good cause

Payton Willenkamp's dish for the 'Little Chef' event on September 12, 2017 (WLUK/Alex Ronallo

GRAND CHUTE (WLUK) -- They competed. They won and now the first of three winners in a 'Little Chef' competition served up culinary delights Tuesday evening in Grand Chute.

The event itself is also Making a Difference.

Payton Willenkamp may only be in 6th grade, but she is cooking at the graduate level.

"It's really exciting!" she exclaimed to FOX 11 News.

Willenkamp is one of three middle schoolers to win the 'Little Chef' competition to benefit Trim Hunger. They out-cooked several other young chefs for the honor of serving their food in a restaurant.

"I like cooking because it just makes me happy and it's good, I play a lot of sports so it's good to do something different," Willenkamp told us.

Willenkamp worked with the executive chef of the Fox River Brewing Company's Grand Chute location. They served her meal there to 80 guests Tuesday, Good Day Wisconsin's Rachel Manek hosted the event.

"She really, really wanted to do it. She knew what she was doing. She came in right away with an idea for the appetizer. She did most of it, I just kinda put it together!" explained Steve Lehman the executive chef.

The winning dish that got Chef Payton all the way to the final round of 'Little Chef' was stir-fried chicken teriyaki with her homemade teriyaki sauce, vegetables and the secret ingredient: pineapple.

"I mean, who doesn't like pineapple?" Willenkamp asked, laughing.

Good Day Wisconsin contributor and Salon CTI owner Josif Wittnik created Trim Hunger in 2014. The organization fights hunger locally.

Proceeds from this particular project will go to the Hortonville-Greenville School District.

"To help with their garden program. So that they can continue to grow fresh produce all year long. By doing that the kids will start eating a little more healthy things," Wittnik explained.

Something this 'Little Chef' says makes a big difference.

"Because you know it's fresh. You know it doesn't have preservatives in it and you just know it's good for you!" exclaimed Willenkamp.

Event number 2 will be a week from Tuesday at the Appleton Beer Factory. The third and final event the week after that at Gingerootz. The Cost is $40 a plate.

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