Uncle Ben’s Chef Chris Skolmutch, left, cooking with Sydney Fialkow.

Listen to your elders, youngsters. Sometimes they really do have a good idea.

Sydney Fialkow of Sandy Springs found that out when she listened to her mom recently and decided to try her hand at cooking up a batch of her great-great-grandmother’s chicken and rice dish.

“We were talking in the car and she said, ‘I have an idea of a recipe we should make.’” Sydney said. “I went with the flow.”

And that paid off.

The dish – originally cooked up by Sydney’s great-great-grandmother – won Sydney, who’s 10, a spot on a national cooking show and a $20,000 scholarship. It also won the Epstein School a $50,000 cafeteria makeover.

Sydney’s rice and chicken was the top vote getter in the national “Uncle Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest,” and her victory led to an appearance on the Rachel Ray show. On May 2, students, parents, faculty and staff gathered in the Epstein School’s gymnasium to watch the announcement.

Sydney hopes the school will use the money to brighten up its cafeteria. “I’d really like the school to paint the walls in a fun color,” she said. “Because it’s just blue and white. I’d like to see it a little brighter. It’s just glum.”

Her mom, Stacy Fialkow, said the contest was intended to encourage families to get into the kitchen together. And, she said, it’s worked. “It’s been so neat since this contest how many people have come up to me and said they’d started cooking with their kids.”

As for Sydney, it sounds like she plans to spend a bit more time in the kitchen herself.

“I love cooking,” Sydney said. “Because I like eating, and cooking and eating go together well.”

Sydney’s Rice & Chicken (Serves 4 to 6)

1 cup chopped onions

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast filets (about 1½ lb.)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. coarse-ground black pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup rice

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup frozen green peas

1 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray glass baking dish evenly with cooking spray. Place onions in baking dish; top with chicken filets. Season the chicken evenly with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Pour chicken broth into baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven. Transfer chicken breast filets to container and reserve. In baking dish, add rice, bell peppers, peas, cilantro and oregano. If desired add 2 shakes of yellow food coloring. Stir rice mixture. Arrange reserved chicken breast filets over rice. Cover and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, gently stir rice mixture, cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.