Participating schools included Ocoee High School and Orange Technical College Westside Campus
ORLANDO Students brought their sharpest knives and tastiest recipes to Orlando Marriott World Center on Dec. 8 as they prepared to go head-to-head in the sixth annual Orange County Culinary and Hospitality Competition.
More than 200 student from 11 different Orange County schools - including several students from Ocoee High School and Orange Technical College Westside Campus - participated in the annual competition.
“Culinary competitions are not for the faint of heart,” said Matthew Miller, a senior at Westside Tech. “We planned since August and made our fish five different times to make sure it was right.”
Students could participate in a variety of competitions - from cooking a meal to baking a dessert to creating elaborate table settings.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for the students,” said Mike Armbruster, the senior executive director for career and technical education for Orange County Public Schools.
The competition began at 9 a.m. and lasted until noon. Students worked in pre-assigned teams to create their culinary masterpiece and only had a set amount of time to complete their dishes. When students weren’t competing, they watched cooking demonstrations and were given behind-the-scenes tours of the World Center to show them what kind of jobs were available to people with a culinary or hospitality degree.
“They believe in the education of youth and giving students opportunities,” Armbruster said about the World Center’s decision to host the event.
While some of the students had competed previously, many were first-timers.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” said first-time competitor Alexander Proisl, a senior from Westside Tech.
And for repeat competitor Christina Nagy, a senior from Westside Tech, preparation is key.
“Compared to last year, we blew this one out of the water,” Nagy said about her team’s dish.
For some, the decision to take culinary classes wasn’t just about the fun of cooking but also a chance to prepare for college life.
“It’s being able to fend for myself,” said Emma Stockman, a senior from Ocoee High School. “Now I can whip something up for myself.”
These new culinary skills will come in handy once they start college next fall, said Ocoee High senior Chelsia McClain.
“I can get some food and cook it,” she said. “I can’t call my mom (to come cook for me).”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].
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