Eighth-grader wins $15,000 from national cooking contest

SOUTH BEND, Ind, (WNDU) - An eighth-grader at LaSalle Academy left school on Wednesday with $15,000 in her pocket. Kali Yazel was named on of the Top 5 winners of Uncle Ben's "Ben's Beginners" national competition.

Kali and her family took home the $15,000 prize, which she hopes to spend on a family vacation or maybe a hot tub.

More than 2,000 people submitted a photo and a recipe name they created to the competition.

"We weren't expecting to win," Kali said. "We made a meal and my mom saw the Ben's thing and decided we were going to do it."

Kali won with her recipe for bean and rice enchiladas.

"That was pretty surreal. It was both thrilled excitement and I wanted to see her and see how she was responding and reacting," said her dad, Ryan.

LaSalle Academy was also given $30,000 from Uncle Ben's.

"I'm just blown away," said Brandon Groves, assistant principal at LaSalle. "I'm so proud of Kali and her family for taking this initiative to do something that supports the school and supports the community."

The school plans to create an advisory board to decide how to spend the money, and Kali will be on the board to provide her own insight.