In Our Community

Talented Teen Chefs Battle with Maple Syrup

Four talented teenage chefs will compete in First County Bank’s Teen Chefs Challenge event at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center during this year’s Maple Sugar Festival Weekend. On Saturday, March 1, the teen chefs will compete in an exciting competition to create the best tasting recipe, as judged by the public, using maple syrup as an ingredient.

This year marks the 14th anniversary First County Bank has sponsored this family festival highlighting the New England tradition of maple sugaring.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 1, Hannah Buzkin of Westport, 13, Evan Cassidy of Northford,15, Marissa Young of Stamford, 13, and Hunter Zampa of Stamford, 13, are scheduled to battle it out in the kitchen. They will present their creations for the public to sample. The public will vote for their favorite creation and the winning recipe and chef will be announced at 2 p.m.

“The First County Bank Chefs Challenge has truly become a tradition since its inception in 2010 and a highlight during the Maple Sugar Festival Weekend,” said Karen Kelly, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at First County Bank. “This year we’re excited to switch it up a bit and invite a talented group of teen chefs to participate in the cooking challenge. Using maple syrup, they will prepare an eclectic mix ofdishes for the public to taste and judge. It’s great to provide a venue to showcase local kids’ talents and help them further hone their skills. This is quite a unique event for our community. We appreciate their contribution and look forward to a weekend full of great food, fun, learning and old fashioned New England traditions.”

About the Chefs

Hannah Bukzin, Westport, is a freshman at Staples High School in Westport. Ever since she was 7, shehas always loved cooking. She started to watch Food Network (Alton Brown is her man!) and became more interested in the topic of food. She continues to practice and experiment. She started off with a little bowl of pasta, and now she is breaking down whole fish and making stocks with the bones.

Most recently, she won the CT bites/Marica Selden “Chopped” style cook-off where she competed against two (adult) finalists. This past summer she participated in the Wellesley College cooking camp. Visit and for more information.

Evan Cassidy, Northford, is starting college at a young age due to home schooling. Evan is beginning his second semester at Gateway Community College in New Haven Connecticut, majoring in Culinary Arts and Hotel Management. On his days off from school, he enjoys trying new recipes, snowboarding, and attendingpottery classes. Evan hopes to take part in the Disney Culinary Program when he graduates and turns 18.

Marissa Young, Stamford, is an 8th grader at Rippowam Middle School. She began baking when she was about 3 years old. Her father, Dan, has always loved to bake (he learned from his grandmother), and he has always had Marissa by his side in the kitchen, especially when baking cookies. She is constantly getting encouragement from her brothers, who enjoy eating her cookies, fudge and cupcakes. Her other passion is gymnastics, which she’s been doing since she was 2. Marissa especially enjoys sharing her sweet creations with her gymnastics team after a tough workout!

Hunter Zampa, Stamford, 13, is hoping to show off his cooking skills to the world and to one day become an Iron Chef. His life-long dream is to become a chef and restaurateur; he is determined that nothing will get in the way of him accomplishing that dream. At age 13, Hunter has a busy schedule being a kid and going to school but on weekends he creates new recipes in the kitchen.

Most recently, Hunter won Chopped, on an episode featuring teen competitors in December, making him the youngest winner of the show in its history. Hunter also participated on Food Network’s Rachel vs. GuyKids Cook-Off. Visit and Rachel vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off for more information.

About First County Bank Maple Sugar Festival Weekend

The First County Bank Maple Sugar Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, March 1-2, from 11 3 p.m. rain or shine. The maple sugar season usually peaks around the first week in March. At this family festival, visitors will see maple tapping demonstrations, taste sweet maple syrup treats, make a maple-themed craft, go on a scavenger hunt and enjoy the popular Sunday pancake brunch.

Other activities include face painting, storytelling, music and much more. A daily admission fee of $5 per person will be charged to museum members and non-members $10 per person. All children 3 and under, Family Plus and above members are allowed in free.

Stamford Museum & Nature Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of art, natural and agricultural sciences, and history. The museum is a vital cultural and educational resource for the community, and a focal point for family activity and interaction, seeking to inspirecreativity, foster self-discovery, and nurture an appreciation for lifelong learning through exhibitions, educational programs and special events that enhance the visitor’s experience. Stamford Museum & Nature Center is located off High Ridge Road at 39 Scofieldtown Rd. in Stamford (three-quarters of a mile north of Merritt Parkway Exit 35). For more information, visit

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