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 High School Students Battle For Culinary Trophy

​Students from nine high schools across San Diego County sharpened their culinary skills and showed off their cooking prowess at this year’s 2017 San Diego County Career Technical Education (CTE) MasterChef Competition. Sponsored by (DSN) – California Community Colleges Small Business Navigator Program. The competition pitted high schools from Escondido to Santee in a battle that tested students on safety, sanitation, cooking procedure, and a final dish.

(DSN) Program Director Joe Molina enthused about the benefits of a competition judged by top chefs in the field. “This competition provides an extraordinary opportunity for students to apply classroom learning in a professional kitchen setting and to get invaluable feedback from top chefs. It’s an ideal experience, bridging the gap between the classroom and the professional kitchen.”

Chefs from some of San Diego’s leading restaurants, hotels and venues -- including Executive Chef Travis Watson (Rancho Bernardo Inn); Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver and Sous Chef Robin Katz (The Marine Room); Chef/Teacher Emily Menkes (Sur La Table and Vista School District); and Executive Chef Rhandell Molina (Shadowridge Gold Club) -- poured over entrees created in one hour that highlighted this year’s protein of choice- beef (filet mignon). According to the judges, including Executive Chef Watson, “We were really impressed by the quality and creativity of the work, and the chance for students to use professional level culinary equipment and techniques.”

The competition provided a platform for students to showcase their leadership and culinary skills, and to receive professional feedback. Blake, one of the students from Mission Hills High School, shared the invaluable experience he gained from this competition, “It was pretty stressful. but having a time crunch is pretty much part of the culinary career.” The judges awarded medals to Santana High School (third place) and Ramona High School (second place), and a trophy to competition winner San Dieguito Academy. The judges were excited to be part of the learning experience.

“This competition was orchestrated extremely professionally, “said Chef Menkes. “It showed students why teamwork is really important and prepared students for their future work.” Executive Chef Rhandell Molina echoed the sentiment. “The competition stetting and the life skills that they learn, they take away forever.”