Seven high school teams, including teams from Columbia and Waterloo high schools, showcased their cooking skills in the eighth annual Platinum Chef Team Challenge at Red Bud High School April 2.
The competition is similar to the “Iron Chef” competition on TV and aims to encourage excellence in the area of culinary arts.
Teams are required to prepare and present to judges an appetizer tray, salad plate, entrée plate and dessert plate in a specified amount of time. Teacher input is limited to three three-minute conferences.
Both teams took home awards from the competition, including best test score, best oral presentation of dishes and best presenter for Waterloo, and best dessert and best of competition for Columbia.
CHS and WHS teams are both made up of culinary students from their respective high schools. They spend class time getting ready for both the preparing of the food and the presentation.
Jane Schwebke, who teaches the food service occupation class at WHS, said Waterloo has been participating in the competition since it began.
She said the class is an advanced food class in which the students learn to prepare a variety of foods that appear on the list of possible competition food items.
“We focus 100 percent, approximately, a month on this activity,” she said. “However, the class curriculum includes aspects of the competition, such as plate presentation and talking about your food items, on a regular basis.”
Schwebke said she and her team felt they did an excellent job representing Waterloo.
“The students were very happy with the highest test score award,” she said. “This is an award everyone strives for each year and it was our first time winning the prize.”
The presentation award was a gratifying one because of how hard the students work to be creative in their food presentations, she said.
The team elected senior Sean Shaw to represent the team as oral presenter.
“He is a speech club member, president of the senior class and student council president,” Schwebke said. “Obviously, he has lots of experience talking to groups and gave a fantastic effort on behalf of the team.”
Waterloo has another project in progress before the school year ends: the establishment of a small café in the WHS foods lab.
“This will happen toward the end of April and will be open for three weeks,” Schwebke said.
Columbia’s seven-person team snagged the third place overall award, which teacher Amanda Vaughn said provides validation for all the team’s hard work.
“The Columbia High School Platinum Chef team is made up of students from my advanced culinary course,” Vaughn said. “For most of these students, this is their third cooking course with me.”
In addition to the third place overall award, they also took home an award for best dessert.
“Best dessert is exciting for them because the dessert was something that took a long time to perfect,” she said.
They began practicing for the competition in early February.
“The students were very excited about their awards,” Vaughn said. “They have worked really hard and given how challenging the day was we were very pleased.