Culinary Idols: St. Louis Edition

Monday April 23, 2012

Recently, aspiring chefs from four area high schools squared off in the 5th Annual High School Culinary Cook-Off. The event, similar to The Food Network’s “Iron Chef” competition, tested the culinary arts programs of Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, North Technical, Normandy and South Technical high schools in a battle for the title of “Top High School Chefs.”

Chef Jason McGraw of Levy Restaurants at America’s Center helped develop the format for the competition and set the “surprise” elements, which included an array of high end, restaurant-quality ingredients. No recipes were allowed and the young chefs were required to use only the items provided. Teams were charged to create an appetizer, salad and entrée.

After the heat of battle in Forest Park Community College’s “kitchen stadium,” the chefs were critiqued on everything from food prep, safety and presentation, to knife cuts and cross contamination of foods and flavors. The judges were temperate but firm with their critiques, and it’s an understatement to say the students’ nervousness was palpable.

In the end, South Technical was declared victorious and happily accepted the Levy Cup traveling trophy and gold medals. North Technical earned silver, Clyde C. Miller and Normandy both accepted bronze.

The cook-off is an event that has become a popular addition to the CVC’s annual week-long celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week.

“We’re proud to be a part of this event that highlights the work being done by these students,” said Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC). “This is just one way the CVC is working to extend our impact in the community and help support the next generation of hospitality industry employees.”

National Travel & Tourism Week, established in 1983 by the U.S. Congress, is a collective effort to promote the power of travel through customized events in communities nationwide. Created by the U.S. Travel Association the goal of the nationwide event is to enhance the country’s economy, security and perception, and recognize the cultural and social benefits created by travel and tourism.

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