Niagara Falls Culinary Institute’s halls were percolating with excitement as 90 teen-foodies ate up their professional tips and delectable samples. Erie County high school students, who are enrolled in the culinary and baking programs at Erie 1 BOCES, also meet with local employers while they waited for the results of the day’s capstone event, the culinary cook-off.
Three teams, representing culinary classes from three different career centers in the county, faced-off to create a triumphant meal. The teens from the Harkness, Kenton and Potter career and technical centers hurried as they measured, chopped and tended to their stoves. The Mystery Basket Challenge pitted students in a heated race to deliver a creative and delicious meal in 60 minutes.
The teens from Erie 1 BOCES Potter Career & Technical Center won first place in the Mystery Basket challenge. The team was comprised of three high school seniors including Greg Metzger from Hamburg, Carlos Sanabria from Lackawanna, and Dominic Voss from Cheektowaga-Sloan.
During that same span of time, representing the same three career centers, six opposing baking-and-pastry students where challenged to create a captivating cake. Baskets were woven and colorful roses appeared out of icing. When time was called and spatulas rested, Natalie Hochadel was named the winner of the Bakery and Pastry Arts Challenge. Natalie is from Clarence High School and is enrolled in the baking class at Harkness.
Dishes were judged on appearance, taste and texture, degree of difficulty, time management, safety and sanitation. The judging panel consisted of Chef Instructor Monte Dolce; Sarah Wells, American Culinary Federation team member; David Davis, student of the competition and advanced culinary techniques course; and Chef Instructor Nathan Koscielski.
During the fast-paced cooking competition, the audience of high school seniors observed their teammates and visited representatives from Salvatore's, Sheraton Niagara Falls, Delaware North, Canterbury Woods, 3 Pillars Catering, River Stone Grill, Seneca Casino & Resorts, Dash’s Markets, Wegmans, Bob Evans Restaurants, Millennium Hotel, Hyatt Hotel, Say Cheese Pizza Co., Hard Rock Café, Peek n' Peak, Sweet Beginnings Bakery, American Niagara Hospitality, and University at Buffalo Dining.
Morning demonstrations included an ice carving by Chef Matwijkow, innovative cooking trends by Chef Steiner, sugar work by Chef Barron, pretzel art by Chef McDermott, and smoked gazpacho by Chef Koscielski. A hospitality presentation was provided by James Carlo.
Erie 1 BOCES programs are (ACF) American Culinary Federation certified. As part of public education, BOCES offer a variety of career and technical programs during the normal school day to high school students. Erie 1 BOCES partners with Erie County school districts to offer unique learning opportunities in a cost effective manner. High school students interested in learning more about how they can participate in various programs such as culinary, welding or aviation technology should visit http://www.e1b.org/cte or speak with their high school counselor.
Pictured above: Carlos Sanabria from Lackawanna.
Pictured: The winning dish.