AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Austin Independent School District’s “Diced and Sliced” culinary competition came back in full force Thursday.

Six teams of middle school students competed against each other to have their burrito recipes on Austin ISD’s school lunch menus next year.

“The opportunity to be here and show off my cooking is amazing,” Kealing Middle School student Helen Giarracani said.

The young chefs competed and presented their burritos to a panel of judges to evaluate on taste, appearance, creativity, and presentation.

“We wanted to make it spicy, something that the judges had never tasted before,” Giarracani said. “We added a lot of seasoning and used a lot of tomatoes.”

This cook-off at Austin Community College serves as a springboard for AISD’s culinary high school programs.

“In a foodie town like Austin, they can slip right into a number of jobs,” AISD executive chef Diane Grodek said.

It also inspires these kids to pursue a culinary career.

“Culinary will be maybe a career option, I really enjoy cooking,” Kealing Middle School student Shimari Espino said.

“This is a possibility for what I could do in the future,” Dobie Middle School student Isaac Hinton said.

Working together to create the perfect recipe was a tall task but also served as a source of inspiration.

“Just seeing everybody else and how good they did, I have very high hopes for the future of cooking,” Hinton said.

“More kids trying this out is amazing,” Giarracani concluded. “More kids are going to be interested in something that they never thought they’d be interested in before.”

When it was all said and done, a team from Kealing Middle School took home the title with the best burrito.