Food Network Rachel Ray Judges Contest That Lets Kids Demonstrate How to Cook


The Food Network’s Rachel Ray will be one of the judges for an Uncle Ben’s healthy cooking contest for kids.  The grand prize winner will receive an appearance on the Rachel Ray Show, $20,000 in cash, and a $50,000 cafeteria makeover for their school.  Ten year old Olivia Ladaire, aka Livvey plans to win, but not for the reasons you might think.


“This is exactly the type of opportunity that we have been waiting for “, exclaims Livvey.  Livvey has been eating fresh healthy food since she was a baby but was horrified to find out how most of her new friends ate when she transferred to a public school in 3rd grade.  “It’s crazy what most of my friends eat, and it’s really sad what they won’t eat. I’m actually not even sure how some of these kids survive and grow with the junk that they put in their bodies on a daily basis” says Livvey.

Livvey attests to the fact that many of the parents try to pack healthy lunches, but the kids are so stuck on eating junk food that many of the them simply refuse to eat them, and instead dump them, untouched into the trash, so they can head to the play ground faster.  Other parents seem to have decided that getting something into their children’s bellies is better than nothing, so they give in to the “parent pressure” as Livvey likes to call it, and give their kids whatever they will eat.  “One of my friends literally gets a bag of marshmallows in her lunch every day of the week!” yells Livvey. “It’s this kind of behavior that got my daughter and I talking about how we can start trying to change the way kids think about food.” chimes in mom, Melissa Ladaire, who entered the contest with Livvey.  “We really want to make a difference in how these kids think about food”, she continues.


or going to the Uncle Ben’s Beginner’s contest website and searching for Olivia Ladaire.

About a year ago Livvey and Melissa came up with an idea.  “What if we had a mother/daughter talk show where teach how to cook healthy recipes.  We could encouraged kids and their parents to make healthy choices about what they put into their bodies and at the same time encourage open communication between kids and adults by talking about things that they both enjoy?  Think, Rachel Ray, meets, Oprah and Ellen Degeneres!”  Livvey and her mom both loved the idea, but didn’t want to make the show just about cooking.  “We wanted to encourage all kinds of healthy lifestyle choices, like getting out and exercising and being good to our planet.”

They began talking to their local cable company about the show and working on ideas of how they could get their message across when last March Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer.  “I am very lucky, we caught it really early.  It was the strangest thing, I was lying in bed one morning and I felt two little tingling pains in my right breast.  They were very subtle and I didn’t feel any  lumps, but I knew I had to be checked.”  A mammogram revealed calcium deposits in the same two spots she felt the sensations, an early sign of cancer cell activity, and later, a tissue sample revealed DCIS.  Melissa, with the encouragement of her family, decided on a bilateral mastectomy as a course of treatment.  Although their plans were temporarily side railed, the two of them never stopped talking about their idea.


Now healthy, but short of funds after a long recovery period, and even more serious about what goes into their bodies, Melissa and Olivia have been trying to figure out how to make their dream a reality.  “The original idea was that we would be on the talk show together.  Livvey is really smart, really funny and really talented, she can sing, (check out her video on youtube),

she can dance and I think kids and their parents would get a kick out of our banter and our different points of view given our age difference,” says mom. But with no budget, Melissa had to operate the camera, and Livvey had to do her cooking alone.

Check out this short video or Livvey demonstrating how to make Kale chips for Paula Deen.

“We are really just getting started again.  We have made a few sample cooking videos and posted them on Youtube and sent a few to Cox for review.  So far, their advice has been to keep at it… lol, and our videos on Youtube have gone almost unnoticed, but we are far from being ready to give up.  We definitely have a lot of work to do to get our show to where we want it and $20,000 would really help.”  If Livvey and Melissa were to win this contest, they say they would use the money to create a pilot of their talk show idea and see if they could get some cable stations to pick up the show.  “Even if we don’t win the contest, we feel this is a great opportunity to have a chance to begin to influence people to make better choices about what they eat.”



and search for Olivia Ladaire

“As adults, we are always telling kids that they should eat right, but most of us are horrible examples.  We know that the American diet is literally killing us and if we want it to change, we have to start teaching our kids how to think about food differently.  Food is not just something you put in your body to fill it up when you feel hungry, or a sugary reward for a job well done.  It is our energy source and our body’s productivity is dramatically affected by everything we put into it.  The message is really very simple, keep eating junk and you will look and feel like crap!  Pardon my potty mouth”, “Moooom!”  Livvey laughs.

Livvey and Melissa really think they have a shot at making cooking and eating healthy food fun, entertaining and hip.  Livvey says, “One of the things that my mom and I  like to do to do together is watch popular cooking shows on tv like the Rachel Ray Show or Paula Deen and when we find something that we think would be fun to make, we like to figure out how we can improve the recipe by making it healthier.”  The duo often use non-dairy beverages like rice milk, coconut milk or almond milk instead of cow’s milk, flaxseed meal in baked items instead of oil or butter, and fruit such as apple sauce, raisins and prunes for sweeteners as well as carrots and beets.  There are a lot of creative ways to cut down on fat and sugar when cooking and not take too much away from the taste.

“The truth is, that as you start eating healthier, your taste buds change.  You actually start noticing more subtle flavors and stronger flavors become even more delicious and intense as you get away from overly processed, fattening and sugary foods.  Kids and adults alike begin craving these healthier foods as they get used to eating them and will start noticing that when they eat a lot of food that is not healthy, that they don’t feel very good.  For me, the pleasure of eating a huge slice of white flour cake loaded up with frosting is just not that enticing anymore, knowing that thirty minutes later, I’m going to feel horrible” admits Melissa, “I had to learn this, Livvey seemed to instinctively know this or at least learned her lessons a lot quicker, because she is really good about not over eating sweet stuff, not that she never indulges.  I want her to experience some of the things that her friends do and enjoy treats.  The problem is most Americans have gotten to the point where treats are so easily accessible, that we eat them frequently throughout the day in large quantities and seldom eat nutritious food and that is a recipe for disaster with our health.”


search for Olivia Ladaire

“We are really excited that Uncle Ben’s and other major corporations are beginning to understand that changes need to be made, and are making an effort to send better messages and even clean up some of the ingredients they are adding to their products.”

The contest encourages a child and his or her parent to cook a meal or dish on camera using Uncle Ben’s rice and showing the audience how they did it and what they learned.  The judging will be based on the following criteria.

Personality and ability to engage and inspire the audience (20%);

Level of enthusiasm for the recipe and cooking (20%);

Demonstrating a basic knowledge of food and recipe (20%);

Creativity in responding to the questions posed by You (20%); and

Votes: the total number of votes that the Video received on Facebook during the Public Voting Period (20%).

Four finalists will be invited to New York to appear on the Rachel Ray Show and demonstrate their knowledge of and passion for cooking.  After the show, another online judging period will commence and a grand prize will be awarded after judging, which will be based on

Personality and ability to engage and inspire the audience during the filming of the Rachael Ray show (23%);

Level of enthusiasm during the filming of the Rachael Ray show (23%);

Creativity during the filming of the Rachael Ray show (23%);

The number of votes that the Video received on Facebook during the Public Voting Period 2 (23%); and

The Rachael Ray show’s Vote (8%).

Melissa and Olivia hope you will click on their link to view their video submission and if you like what you see vote for them.  You can vote once a day, every day during the first voting period that end March 11, 2012.  Please forward the information to your friends and post on your Facebook wall and Twitter.  Help spread the word that you care about health and the way we eat.  You can copy and paste the text below.

Mother/daughter duo encouraging healthy eating habits. Vote for them in the Uncle Ben’s Beginner’s Cooking Contest at

And search for Olivia Ladaire

Or use this short link to vote

Also look for our new blog coming soon at http:/ for more healthy recipes and learn how to cook with you children.  You will also get lots of  mother, daughter talk from Melissa and Olivia.

You can also visit us on youtube channel at



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jean-François
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 20:17:56

    Good luck, Livvey! You got my vote – great recipe and video.


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