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Culinary students at High Tech North place at competition; Both teams get medals

By Staff | Oct 3, 2008

Four culinary art students from Cape Coral’s High Tech North participated in an annual competition recently, hosted by the Naples Caxambus Chef’s Association of the American Culinary Federation.

Schools were invited to send students to work in teams of two alongside a professional sous chef to prepare a winning dish. It was open to high school students from Charlotte County to Collier County.

High Tech North students Miranda LaLone, Nikki Pymn, Scott Stebbins and Rochelle Kreller were chosen this year by Chef Jack Elias and competed at Palmetto Ridge High School.

“Chef Jack was asked to pick two of his best high school students. He picked two but he had two others he thought were really good,” explained Robert Fain, assistant director of High Tech North.

Fain said all four students enjoyed the competition and are confident in their performance.

“It was a lot of fun, it was in a new kitchen. They had a whole new environment to work in. It was more like a home economics kitchen and because of that they had to stagger the start time for students,” said Fain.

When it began, the teams were presented with a “mystery box” that contained all of the ingredients to prepare a meal. Students were divided into two teams — LaLone and Pymn on one side and Stebbins and Kreller on the other.

Fain explained that this year’s mystery box contained a rack of lamb, figs and an artichoke. After opening their box, the students were given one hour to prepare the dish and an additional five minutes to design how the food would be presented.

Furthermore, they prepared two dishes — one judged for presentation and the other for taste.

Because the kitchen design was different, and starting times had to be staggered, students were able to observe how other competitors started their dishes.

“It was more like a home economics kitchen since the competition was held at Palmetto Ridge High School,” said Kreller.

According to Fain, LaLone and Pymn seared the lamb included in the mystery box. They also made a mint fig demi-glaze, mixed roasted and mashed potatoes and utilized artichoke as a garnish. Throughout the entire process they were assisted by a professional sous chef.

Fain explained that the sous chef asked the students questions and made suggestions, but he did not tell the students what to do.

“The students came up with the plan and carried it out,” said Fain.

At the end of the competition, LaLone and Pymn were awarded the bronze medal while Stebbins and Kreller won the gold medal. Gold medal winners were presented with a check for $100 for the school, and all of the winners had their names engraved on a traveling trophy.

High Tech North’s Culinary Arts and Commercial Foods program is an 18-month program that teaches students how to prepare dishes that are found in top restaurants across Southwest Florida. It also certifies students to be an executive chef, culinary educator or a food and beverage executive.

For more information on the school, visit: www.hightechnorth.com.