Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Platinum Chef Team Challenge

Last week I was asked to be one of the judges for a cooking competition among nine different high school districts. Nine cooking stations were set up on the floor of the Red Bud gymnasium floor. Contestants were responsible for their own cooking appliances-camp stoves, microwaves, foreman grills, hot plates, etc.

The students were to create an appetizer, an entree, vegetable or salad, starch, and parfait. Basics were provided on a "help yourself table" -things like butter, olive oil, milk. Bags of ingredients (secret until that morning at 9 AM) included chicken breasts, asparagus, mushrooms, rice, strawberries, spinach, were given to each team.

The cooking curriculum at these schools has become much more trade oriented and much less Home Ec. There were many males involved, although the best teams were female dominated. Many of the students are considering careers in the culinary arts.

The best teams started with a small meeting in which the team WROTE down a menu and a plan to prepare that menu. The less organized teams sort of dove in-and the lack of a written plan definitely showed. Team leaders emerged and these individuals were easy to identify. Six individuals were recognised for leadership skills and were awarded George Foreman Grills.

I had one employee and one former employee (who left me on good terms) on the team from Waterloo, and I was probably careful to be more critical of them. Tim Kutterer, who still works for the restaurant was one of the outstanding individuals chosen. He was recognised by all the judges-I didn't even have to push him. He really is an outstanding young man and a terrific worker-so responsible. He plans on working in construction when he graduates this Spring-but keeping his kitchen options open to get him through the seasonal slow periods in construction. Unfortunately there are the same seasonal slow periods in the restaurant business as well.

I wonder if someday the kitchen competitions will be as popular as the football and basketball competitions. Some teams were provided with more professional uniforms than others, and unfortunately presentation is always important. All athletic teams get uniforms, I think the schools need to suit up their kitchen teams as well. In the whole scope of things, more kids could end up making a living in kitchens than on athletic fields.


Kevin said...

I can't wait to show this to Apryl!!! She absolutely loves her Culinary Arts class. They were supposed to do a competition but I think the teacher fell asleep..... In her class they all have matching (monogrammed)chef jackets and hats. Every Friday the Culinary Arts class does "soda shop" where they prepare something for the entire school (3000+) She could tell you more.

I'm sure you really enjoyed the competition and you obviously have done a great job teaching/mentoring Tim. Congrats to both of you!!!!

P.S. Now I'm REALLY interested in seeing how you work a George Forman grill into your 'high brow' style of cooking!!!!LOL

Brilynn said...

That sounds like fun! I wish they'd had stuff like that at my high school...