Students cook for their future

By Katie Bernardo

Each year, Granada Hills Charter’s (GHC) advanced culinary students have the opportunity to compete in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). Students train for months for the annual C-CAP competition where they demonstrate their skills in preparing and presenting food as well as safety and sanitation.

Last weekend, seniors Saeyeon Chough, Andrew Cuervo, Gavin Levin, and Roberto Morazon moved on to the final competition. Results will be released in April.

Scholarships ranging in the thousands are awarded to the winners. There are even full ride scholarships awarded for admission to four year culinary arts programs at schools such as Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, the Institute of Culinary Education in Pasadena, and the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

Although the thrill of the competition and the potential for awards are great motivators, GHC students truly compete because of their love for the culinary arts.

“I started to cook at the beginning of quarantine,” senior Saeyon Chough said. “It kept me busy all the time, and now I love it. Cooking makes me happy and it’s so fun.”

The students applied for the competition in early October. They were interviewed by competition staff and judged on a salad dish as well as two French omelet dishes they created to determine if they would take part in the competition.

“We have been training for a couple months and are working so hard,” senior Diego Torres said. “It’s been pretty stressful at times, trying to get everything down. For the most part, we get to know everything we’re doing pretty well. It’s becoming such a good experience.” Torres competed in the first phase of the competition.

The competitors practice the final dishes throughout their culinary classes in order to prepare for the competition.

“These students gain great opportunities from this competition,” culinary arts teacher Dan Ma said. “I am the most proud of all the dedication and hard work my students have put in for this competition. It requires a lot of hard work and they are handling the pressure well. I think it’s all from their passion for cooking. They have all grown and come so far.”

In the final competition on March 24, the contestants competed to finish two dishes in two hours. The final dishes were pan roasted chicken with balsamic gastrique, potato puree and crepes with pastry cream and chocolate sauce.

“Not many students from other schools advance into the final round, so the fact that four Granada students made it to the finals is amazing,” Chef Ma said.