When Cesar Mullix saw the flyer and entry form for the Uncle Ben’s Rice “Ben’s Beginners” national video cooking contest in a school package, he knew instantly that his daughter would be a contender. And, Cesar was right, as Dr. John Long Middle School sixth grader Astrid Mullix ended up as the contest’s national runner-up, surpassing hundreds of other entries, with her video on how to make Dominican-style chowfan, a dish derived from the Chinese immigrants in the Dominican Republic.

“Astrid likes to have fun on camera, and she loves to cook,” says Cesar, adding that it was a natural decision to enter the nationwide video contest. She won $10,000 towards a renovation of Long’s cafeteria, as well as a $5,000 savings bond.

Long principal Christine Wolff is excited to get a fresh cafeteria for her students. “It’s a terrific place for (the renovation) to happen,” Wolff says. “All of our staff and students pass through (the cafeteria), so everyone will see the good the money does.” The school has to abide by both county guidelines, and also how Uncle Ben’s says the school can spend the money.

In Astrid’s video, which stars herself and her mother Ada, she explains how to make the Dominican-style dish, while her mother assists with prepping the meal. The contest is focused on getting families to eat both healthier and together. The meal was required to include Uncle Ben’s instant rice, which cooks in 5 minutes, as Astrid lets everyone know in her presentation. While creating her chowfan — which is a mixture of rice, chopped vegetables, chicken, shrimp and pork tenderloin — Astrid encourages others to give making the dish a try.

Astrid, 12, intends to keep putting cooking videos on YouTube.com, and her own website (AstridMullix.com).

“I really want to help people through food,” says Astrid. The young chef began helping her mother cook at age three, with basics such as pancakes, and began to increase the difficulty level of her culinary creations from there on. Now, Astrid says she looks forward to continuing her home videos and helping others learn about healthy choices and good food.

For more information about the “Ben’s Beginners” cooking contest, visit BensBeginners.com.


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