By Manpreet Singh
On March 4, six students competed in the culinary arts program’s (C-CAP) cooking preliminary competition. Juniors Natalie Babikian and Sabrina Forte along with seniors Andrew Mercado, Isaiah Rosario, Ian Sherman, and Shannel Tejuco welcomed the challenge. Prior to participating, these six students had to train and practice for months in advance.
Before the young chefs hit the cutting board, they first had to become certified to handle food carefully and hygenically. The students were trained in adherence to the American Culinary Federation standards.
The school was a great help by providing the students with the materials necessary to practice and prepare. The training focused on kitchen skills that the students would use in the upper division of culinary academic achievement. These skills include learning how to cut, slice, dice, and saute flawlessly so that they could take home the win.
Chef and culinary arts teacher Arturo Luna worked profusely to train his students. He started off with 12 students, but as the training became increasingly difficult and more time consuming, only six diligent students remained.
“All I ask is for students to have the passion and thrive. I tell them that they can drop out any time, even at the last minute. At least they tried,” Luna said.
During the competition students prepared a classic French omelet and a cucumber and bell pepper salad. Judges critiqued the young chefs’ different knife cutting techniques. They also wanted to see high levels of professionalism based on the American Culinary Federation Standard.
“At our first practice, I was the most nervous and emotional person there. But after practicing, I grew more confident. Chef Luna really prepared us for success, so at competition I was focused and knew exactly what I was doing,” Forte said.
Of the six students, Andrew Mercado ranked first, and Ian Sherman ranked second out of about 80 students. On April 29, these two students along with 30 other participants will move to the second round.
“I believe this is a great opportunity to chase my dream of becoming a professional chef with my own successful restaurant. I am very passionate about cooking and currently have two jobs in the food service industry. I hope to use the scholarship money to go to college and chase my dreams,” Sherman said.
At the end of the competition, the young chefs were happy and continue to love their passion for cooking. With the schools’ excellent culinary program, students are able to find success in more than just academics. These students now have a chance to excel in their passion.