Student chefs cook up scholarships

Playing with their food has paid off for four Glendale Unified high school students who won a total $45,000 in scholarships at a recent culinary competition.

Glendale High School senior Chris Babaian set the pace Saturday at the Careers through Culinary Arts Program event in North Hollywood, earning a $35,600 scholarship to the French Culinary Institute. His winning creation featured a chocolate dancer with a crepe ballet skirt.

“His food was amazing,” said Debbie Greenwood, culinary instructor at Glendale High School.

In addition, Glendale High senior Larissa Tarverdi won a $2,000 prize and a $300 knife set. And Hoover High School seniors Linette Menaskan and Alfred Evangelista won $5,000 and $2,400 prizes, respectively.

The students were given two hours to prepare a Hunter’s chicken with turned, sautéed potatoes, and a dessert crepe with pastry cream and chocolate sauce. They worked from memory, as notes are forbidden.

The competitors were judged by industry professionals on knife skills, technique, taste and appearance, speed and professionalism, among other things.

Glendale Unified’s culinary programs are among the district’s most successful career technical programs, administrators said. Students regularly graduate on to top training schools and industry positions.

“We do not consider career technical education an after thought, or simply job training,” said Asst. Superintendent Alex Rojas. “Instead, we recognize that [career training] coursework provides students opportunities to receive an education that prepares them for post-secondary study or career options.”

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