Culinary Contestants Shine
Story and Photography by Ariel Fried
On a crisp February day, high school students from across a 100-mile radius gathered at Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts for the 2015 High School Culinary Invitational. A showcase for culinary and academic talents, each team was assigned a mentor for the day; the event kicked off sharply at 9am with students preparing their kitchens while judges swiftly observed every move.
The students were required to demonstrate their abilities and culinary skills through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes. The teams had crafted their own menus, prepared budgets and planned a timeline for the competition.
The teams were given sinks and electrical outlets to use, but beyond that, they were required to bring everything they would need to prepare their meal. A portable oven for homemade buns, a meat grinder for hand-ground burgers, and even balloons for edible bowls were among the items used during the competition.
After the 60 minutes quickly passed, each team personally escorted their dishes to the judges’ room where a variety of aromas and vibrant color palettes graced the room one-by-one. The dishes were critiqued by judges from leading universities, local chefs and restaurateurs. The Plattsmouth Blue Devil Chefs took home the win that Friday with Nathan Kohls, Matt Miller, Rebecca Leonhardt, Kyle Maddux and Spencer Oathout defeating 27 other teams for the title. Their winning dish: a hand-ground grilled steak burger, with sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese on a fresh-baked bun, garnished with tomato and lettuce and served with homemade coleslaw and onion rings.