MESA, AZ - A second-grade student from Crismon Elementary School in Mesa is competing in an online recipe contest that could land her a trip back east and her school a free cafeteria makeover.
The student, Alyssa Hall, is one of hundreds across the country who are entrants in the Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest sponsored by Uncle Ben's. Contestants had to put together a three-minute video where they concocted a recipe using the company's signature rice product.
The contest winner receives a $15,000 prize and a trip to New York City to appear on "The Rachael Ray Show," as well as a $30,000 makeover for the school's cafeteria. Of the three parts of the prize, Alyssa, who found out about the contest when she received a flyer from Crismon, said the one she's looking forward to most is the possible trip to New York.
The recipe Alyssa entered is one that belonged to her grandparents called Grandpa Jerry's Rice Dessert and has her combining the rice with fruit, sugar, milk and butter, which the family makes whenever it has white rice leftover from a night out. Alyssa's dad Eric said the recipe they used is a bit of an alteration from the original version, as he said the family embellished it a bit to add a little pizzazz to the dessert dish.
Alyssa prepared the dish alongside her dad in their kitchen while her mom, Lisa, directed their actions.
"We spent two hours on that, and I think we had an hour and a half of video," he said.
Trimming 90 minutes down to three isn't easy, so it required the Hall family to remove a couple of humorous antics from Alyssa during the process and edited to make sure the end result had a logical flow to it.
Eric said the filming process was pretty fun for the family, particularly when he said Alyssa's personality began to shine through once they eliminated the script they prepared.
"We finally let her go do it," Lisa said.
Although a victory would get her school's multipurpose room a makeover, Alyssa said she is pretty happy with the room's current appearance. Then again, she said adding a line to make the lunch service a little smoother wouldn't be a bad idea.
Joining Alyssa from the East Valley is Kaela Self, who is a sixth grader at EduPrize School in Gilbert. She concocted a Spanish rice dinner.
Voting for the contest ends Oct. 27, and the winners are announced Oct. 28. To vote for the Hall's recipe, visit bensbeginnerscontest.com and type in "Eric," "Jerry" or "Crismon." Self's video is accessible by typing in EduPrize's zip code, 85233, or "Indian Rice Dinner Rice Dinner with Cousins."