Twenty high schools from around Florida brought their best culinary students to Daytona State College Friday, Dec. 7, to compete in the annual “Sharpen Your Skills.’
The eighth annual event was at the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality Management. The campus event serves as a warm-up for the state competition at Disney Springs in Orlando, sponsored by ProStart, the educational arm of the National Restaurant Association.
Costa Magoulas, dean of the College of Hospitality and Culinary Management, said, “We hold a competition before the state to help high school students to prepare for that competition. We call it ‘sharpen your skills’. Next year it is going to be bigger and better than ever. We are looking at possibly 30 (schools) next year.
The competition includes a a gourmet food category, which requires four students to prepare an entrée, appetizer and dessert on two cook tops in one hour. There is a waiter relay team that is timed setting up a table for service. There also is an an edible centerpiece event with a single student carveing a food display from fresh fruit in one hour. A hospitably management event has a team of students try to sell a restaurant concept.
Medals and trophies were presented in each category to first, second and third place.
•Gourmet Meal: Bayside High School, first; Spruce Creek High School, second; and Seabreeze High School, third.
•Edible Centerpiece: Marathon High School, first; Spruce Creek, second; and Ridgeview High School, third.
•Waiter Relay: Seabreeze, first; Lake Minneola High School, second; and Dunnellon High School, third.
•Hospitality Management: Lake Minneola, first; Hialeah High School, second; and Marathon, third.
•Best appetizer: Dunnellon
•Best entrée: Seabreeze
•Best dessert: Hialeah
Megan Massey, Seabreeze Culinary Academy director, was proud of her students' accomplishments.
“I can’t wait to see what else they do,” Ms. Massey said. “I am excited. I’m gonna cry.”
Anthony Samartino, 17, helped create the winning entrée.
“This is my first year performing and I was really excited about the outstanding entrée,” Anthony said.
Me and my partner, Eli, worked very hard on it for the past 4-5 weeks. Our entrée was a paella-style rice with little neck clams, a seared piece of red snapper in a lemon butter sauce. I am pursuing a career in culinary.”
Norma Lagger, 17, a senior who was on a second-place team for Spruce Creek, felt great about her team's efforts.
“We did a lot of teamwork, came up with menus together. I used my Asian background to inspire it. I think we did really well and I am glad we got second place. I am planning on going to DSC for four years culinary and hopefully one day open up an Indonesian restaurant.”
Mary Piper, head of the culinary department at Spruce Creek, said it was school's second year.
“This group worked so hard to get everything put together,” Ms. Piper said. “Phenomenal that they got second place. I am so proud of all of them.”
Dr. Taryn Brown, a DSC professor, was one of the judges for the hospitality management competition.
“The students are . . . challenged to come up with everything from restaurant design, come up with an organizational chart, a marketing plan, a budget, come up with menu items and price everything out. It’s really a big challenge for high school level students to be doing some of these concepts and presenting them in front of industry professionals. It’s really kind of a daunting task, but they all stepped up to the plate and did an awesome job.”
Chef David Weir, who also works at the college and was one of the judges for edible centerpieces, said the students did well.
“For them this is usually a practice competition; this is the first time doing their sculptures in front of live judges and getting feedback,” Chef Weir said. “We focus on what they did during that time frame and how can they take it to the next step. When they go to compete for states, they are better set up for success. There are so many different aspects being judged. Even if you produce the best-looking food, you may not win.”