So I know students are doing amazing things all over the PHS campus on a constant basis, but I am not sure everyone truly realizes the level Matt and Linnea have taken their amazing culinary team to as they prepare for the National Competition next week in Baltimore.
In one hour, these four extremely talented students create a meal on two small gas burners that 90% of our staff probably couldn’t recreate in a full kitchen with the help of Eric Ripert and Gordon Ramsay’s sous chefs.
I had the opportunity to watch them practice yesterday…and to say I was amazed is a ridiculous understatement.
Some details you might not know about their competition next week- they have to travel with everything (minus the burners) they plan to use. That means from whisks to strainers to ice chests…down to the final grain of salt. Each day 22 states with teams of four will compete in a 10 foot area of taped off space in their attempt to become National Champs. Dry ingredients and oils can be premeasured, but everything else has to be done within their hour of cooking time. Everything from the sanitary temperature of their ice chests to their knife skills will be scored.
Kevin, Steph, Anthony and Ulysses move about in a small space like a well-oiled machine. They are quiet and focused…Steph keeps a close eye on the timer and the boys let each other know when each task is complete and ready for use in their dish. They have to think on their feet and improvise as they go. Yesterday, Kevin accidentally knocked his bottle off the table that he uses to drizzle his citrus sauce on his plate before plating the main course….and he had to improvise with an empty water bottle on the table. Thankfully the tables at competition are a little wider…but these are the “oops” they have to be prepared for.
The final product was extraordinary. The pictures I have attached don’t do them justice….you really need to go watch them in action as they practice one last time next Monday after school. Ulysses’ crab cakes were divine as was his asparagus. Anthony’s remoulade sauce and apple slaw made me want to lick the plate (don’t worry, I didn’t). Kevin’s mahi mahi was deliciously topped with macadamia nuts and a mango kiwi salsa that was scrumptious. His coconut rice with chives and red bell pepper was so fragrant it makes your mouth water. Stephanie’s chocolate was tempered so perfectly it shined…inside that “bomb” is the softest, most magnificent chocolate mousse and white raspberry pastry crème that has ever touched your lips and tantalized your palate. It’s really no wonder that she will be attending the Culinary Institute of America next year…one of the most prestigious Culinary Colleges in the world (I hope to see her on Top Chef or the Next Great Baker sometime in the future). They have put together a meal of incredible depth that builds flavor with every bite you take.
Sorry for the long rant, but it wasn’t something I felt could just be a blurb in the Friday Update. This group of students is competing for a National Title….something that deserves an incredible amount of recognition. Their professionalism and talent far surpasses any other group of teenagers or young adults I have ever met. They are inspiring and I wish they could be my private chefs every night of the week!!!!
I can’t wait to hear the results of next week’s competition and could not be more proud of their accomplishments and endless hours of work thus far…they cooked until 6:30pm last night and still had to clean up, go home, eat dinner, do homework and come back the next day….and some of us complain about staying on campus for an hour after school for a meeting. Of course, not enough can be said for Linnea and Matt who also devote insane amounts of time and tutelage to these students (as well as their others) and are a huge part of this success. Truly an incredible moment to be a Triton.