It was a lot like "Iron Chef," but instead of Food Network celebrity, a group of high school seniors representing Los Angeles public schools vied for their chance at a free college education.
L.A. Mission College hosted the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Cooking Competition earlier this month, featuring the talents of Los Angeles Unified School District students. The budding chefs battled in the kitchen for the prize of a full-tuition college scholarship. When the dust settled and the winners were crowned, C-CAP President Susan Robbins, founder Richard Grausman and Los Angeles program director Mitzie Cutler presented $599,384 in scholarships and cash awards to 28 lucky students. [UPDATED: The story originally said there were only three winners.]
C-CAP works with public high schools across the country to prepare at-risk students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Since its inception, C-CAP has awarded over $43 million in scholarships.
Within a two-hour time limit, each competitor had to prepare a two-course French meal from memory. The example meal included hunter's chicken with tourné potatoes, and dessert crepes with pastry cream and chocolate sauce.
Students had to make a delicious meal, yes, but they were also monitored throughout the process for organization, sanitation, work flow, timing, techniques and skills, all of which were factored into their final score. Competitors were judged by Govind Armstrong (Post & Beam), Brock Kleweno (Yamashiro Restaurant), Aaron Robins (Boneyard Bistro), Barbara Fairchild (restaurant and travel editor at grapecollective.com), Diane Mohilef (A Day in the Kitchen), Eric Crowley (Chef Eric's Culinary Classroom), Kimmy Tang (9021Pho), Randy Fuhrman (Randy Fuhrman Events), Caitlin Grady (Beyond Meat) and C-CCAP alumnus Dustin Trani (DOMA).
The results of the competition were announced to participants at the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel.
Albert Kim, a student from L.A.C.E.S. High School, received a full-tuition scholarship for a bachelor's degree in culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University.
Ashley Buenrostro, a student from West Adams High School, was also given a full-tuition scholarship for a bachelor's degree at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Tamara Solis from Sylmar High School was awarded a full-tuition scholarship for an associates degree at the Culinary Institute of America.
Among other scholarship winners were: Jesus Espinosa from Banning High, Timothy Sharp from Pasadena Blair, Jacquari Blackmon and Cecilia Chong from Carson Maybellin Herrera from Chatsworth, Marco Galang from Glendale Crescenta Valley, Suzanna Mkrtchyan from Glendale Hoover, Tiana Gee and Jacob Funaro from Glendale Unified, Sayvaughn Wade from Dorsey, Andrea Torres and Ashley Cunningham from Granada Hills, Kevin Oajaca from Hollywood, Antelmo Cruz from Manual Arts, Mariah Gonzales from Monroe, Maria Angel from Panorama, Jose Garcia from LA Polytechnic, Thomas Ritchey from Sylmar, Jin Ho Jung from Van Nuys, Kristy Matta, Ayla Rizzo and Xochitel Venero from Acton Vasquez, Chris Beltran-Chicas from West Adams, Jessika Whitfield from Westchester, and Catherine Asturias from Y.O.U.