The Crockpot Cookoff is back

Orchestra brings back its yearly tradition at Pattonville High School with incentives for winners


Photo Illustration by Esta Kamau

Pattonville High School resumes the Crockpot Cook-off with Parkway West. An assortment of foods prepared by students and families of both schools will be displayed for people to sample. Whichever school earns the most votes wins the crockpot-shaped trophy. “There’s a lot of good food, and people have a lot of good choices. Ultimately, being a West teacher, my allegiances are with West. I’m hoping we can be the ones to go into the other school and win the trophy,” Orchestra teacher Ed Sandheinrich said.

The Crockpot Cook-off competition heats up as the orchestra program brings back its annual event on Nov. 5. After a two-year hiatus, the orchestra will reappear at Pattonville High School to compete for the crockpot trophy, which resides in the winner’s school until the next competition.

Students and families are invited to prepare a dish or try several prepared foods. 

The Crockpot Cook-off is held for both Orchestras to collect funds and help their programs thrive through the school year. Taste testers buy a $15 lanyard pass to try out 16 dishes, limited quantities. The event first kicked off in 2016, known as the Chili Cook-off. Orchestra teacher Ed Sandheinrich received a call from former Pattonville orchestra teacher Michael Dunsmoor inviting him to collaborate on the event.

“The summer [of 2016], we [planned] the event. I got a call from [Dunsmoor] saying that they were doing the ‘Chili Cook-off’ that year. We had done it by ourselves before, but [were hoping to do it with] another school, so I [told him] that sounds great,” Sandheinrich said.

The event started as a Chili Cook-off where contestants fought for the best dish, but soon changed into the Crockpot Cook-off to have more diverse foods that people could enjoy.

“[Both schools] have that friendly rivalry. It encourages people from one school to step up and try to do better than the other because everyone wants to put their best foot forward,” Sandheinrich said. 

To support the event, students of both Pattonville and West have collaborated with families to run the concession stand where a meal, snack and drink will be provided. Additionally, participants may sign up to help with setup and cleanup and other services to earn volunteer credit hours. Senior Amelia Burgess will be volunteering at the event for the National Honors Society (NHS).

“I love chili, and I think it’s really fun to watch people try different foods. [It will be] fun because it’s a competition and students get excited when they win. [Also,] it’s cool to learn about how everyone [got the idea for their dish] because the way you cook is normally [passed down from relatives],” Burgess said. “I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone. Especially because I’m going to college next year, I have to learn to talk to people I don’t see every day.”  

Those bringing food for the competition can win an assortment of prizes provided to individual winners for the best dish in their category. Sophomore Jack Cohen and his family are competing in the event with brisket chili they have prepared. During a prior year of the annual cook-off, Cohen’s family won the prize for the best dish.

“It’s a fun experience to try different foods. I’ve been there [to support my brother Sam Cohen], but I have not attended as a participant. The brisket chili my dad is making for this year’s Crockpot Cook-off tastes really good,” Cohen said.

After trying out several foods, attendees vote for their favorite food through a Google Form. The Symphonic Orchestra will be performing the cook-off with the Pattonville Orchestra. 

“I’m part of the [Symphonic] orchestra that performs during [the event]. We haven’t done the event since my freshman year. It’s really [nice] to play with a different orchestra outside of West and meet new people. I’m excited to play some of our pieces,” senior Jyllian Poelker said. “I want to make sure it goes well and we do our best performance even though it’s just for a couple of parents there. We are performing some Disney theme songs this year which are always fun to play.”

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