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Chatom student makes video to help school cafeteria win makeover
Luke rice contest pic1
Chatom Elementary second grader Luke Mancebo shows off his new-found cooking skills in his schools kitchen. Mancebo submitted a cooking video he and his mother created to a contest hosted by Uncle Bens rice. The grand prize winners school cafeteria will receive a $50,000 makeover. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Place your vote for Luke Mancebo to appear on the “Rachel Ray Show,” and for Chatom Elementary to receive a $50,000 cafeteria makeover:

1. Visit

2. Type: Luke, then click "search videos"

3. Luke's video will be the SECOND video to appear on the page. There will be an orange box that says vote on his video, CLICK THAT!

4. A screen will appear to verify that you are 18. Click the small white box, then hit "click to continue"

5. Thanks for your vote, Chatom is now one step closer to that $50,000 kitchen!

Luke Mancebo is only in second grade, but the Chatom Elementary student has already starred in his very own cooking video.

Luke and his mom, Priscilla Mancebo, produced a three minute video on how to cook rice and collard greens as part of a contest hosted by the Uncle Ben’s brand. If selected as a grand prize winner, Luke and his family will receive $20,000 cash and Chatom Elementary will get a $50,000 cafeteria makeover. The winners will also appear on “The Rachel Ray Show!”

The Mancebos decided to enter the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest because they thought it would be fun, but also to remember Luke’s aunt Cassy, who passed away on Sept. 4, 2011.

“We dedicated it to her because that was her favorite, favorite food,” Luke said about why they picked rice and collard greens.

Cassy Mancebo was the cook in the family, said Priscilla, and this video — which shows a picture of Cassy picking collard greens in a garden — was a way to honor her memory.

“(Cassy) was not much for doing it by the book; she would just throw ingredients together and it would turn out great,” Priscilla said.

Chatom Elementary Principal Chanda Rowley was excited when she learned about the video contest entry — and a chance for the school to get a cafeteria makeover.

“Our cafeteria tables have been really well-loved and it would be a great opportunity for us. We could really use it,” Rowley said.

Chatom’s food services staff prepares breakfast and lunch for 450 students every school day. Most of the food is made fresh — like Luke’s favorite school lunch, chicken noodle soup.

The Mancebos’ video is one of over 500 entries in the contest. In their video, Luke — dressed out in a tall chef’s hat and never too far from a giant box of Uncle Ben’s rice — lists the ingredients needed to make rice and collard greens and then demonstrates cooking the dish.  Luke then talks about what he learned during the project on camera.

It took Luke, Priscilla and her cousin Mariah Vitoria, a little over four hours to shoot the three minute video.

“It was stop and go, stop and go, because my sister kept crying,” Luke said of the production problems they encountered due to his six-month-old sister Katelyn.

Luke said he enjoyed the cooking part the most because it was the first time he was ever allowed to turn on the stove by himself. While Luke is already considered the budding actor in the family, he said it took him awhile to learn his lines and warm up to the camera.

“It took me a long time because there were some hard words like ‘bouillon cubes.’ I got all shy at first but then my grandma said to just have fun, so I did,” he said.

To help the Mancebos’ video get chosen as a finalist, visit and vote for Luke’s entry.