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Students create winning dish for space station


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May 18, 2016

A red pepper risotto entrée created by high school students from Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey, will be processed for flight and enjoyed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station next year.

The High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program hosted preliminary culinary challenges at NASA centers all around the country that culminated in a final cook-off between the top 10 teams at Space Center Houston on April 21.

NASA astronauts and food scientists were amongst the judges who chose the winning dish. Students were judged on the taste, texture, aroma, appearance and overall sensory evaluation of their dish, and had to follow the same nutritional guidelines NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory follows when preparing astronaut food. One such stipulation, minimizing sodium content, led the students to use other spices to bring flavor to a dish without adding salt.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra and Expedition 47 Flight Engineers Jeff Williams and Tim Peake had a chance to taste last year’s winner—spicy Jamaican rice and beans with coconut milk—from Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia, after it launched to the space station on a SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle on April 8.

“We want to thank the HUNCH team for being able to develop such a great recipe and get it on the space station,” Kopra said.

While only the first-place winner will be flown to the space station, all finalists will have their recipes featured in a cookbook astronauts can use preflight. A butternut squash puree from Trussville High School in Trussville, Alabama, placed second, and a Mexican brown rice paella from the Huntsville Center for Technology in Huntsville, Alabama, placed third. Other finalists include a butternut squash soup from the iSchool STEM Academy in Lewisville, Texas; a quinoa curry from New Horizons High School in Hampton, Virginia; a veggie meatball from Windsor High School in Windsor, Connecticut; a mushroom millet from Warren Tech High School in Lakewood, Colorado; a falafel from Oak Ridge High School in Conroe, Texas; a yam koi from Galena Park High School in Galena Park, Texas; and a butternut squash and spinach tortilla from Cy Woods High School in Cypress, Texas.

For more photos from the event, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskvGTG4v

To learn more about the HUNCH program, visit: https://www.nasahunch.com

 
Hayley Fick

NASA Johnson Space Center

Students serve their dishes to judges during the HUNCH Culinary Challenge Finals at Space Center Houston on April 21. Astronauts, NASA food scientists and International Space Station Program officials were among the taste testers. Image Credit: NASA/David DeHoyos
Students serve their dishes to judges during the HUNCH Culinary Challenge Finals at Space Center Houston on April 21. Astronauts, NASA food scientists and International Space Station Program officials were among the taste testers. Image Credit: NASA/David DeHoyos
The winning dish is a red pepper risotto from Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey. The entrée will be processed for flight and enjoyed by space station astronauts next year. Image Credit: NASA/David DeHoyos
The winning dish is a red pepper risotto from Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey. The entrée will be processed for flight and enjoyed by space station astronauts next year. Image Credit: NASA/David DeHoyos