Thursday, March 7, 2013

Madison Team Wins Teen Iron Chef Cook-Off

Madison's team celebrates with sparkling cider
Five teams of Culinary Arts and Management course students from area high schools competed on Wednesday, February 20, in the Teen Iron Chef Cook-Off. The event, which took place in SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center’s commercial demonstration kitchen, was sponsored by the San Diego County Chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

Each team created a three-course meal (consisting of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert) in one high-pressure hour, which was then judged by a panel of food industry professionals. Just before the competition got started, a secret ingredient (tofu) was unveiled, which had to be incorporated in at least one of the three dishes.
The final dishes presented by each team (from Hoover, San Diego, Scripps Ranch, Mira Mesa, and our own Madison high school) looked like something you’d expect to order from a high-end restaurant and the judges took a long time to determine the winner… but finally they did.

And the winning team… Clairemont’s own Madison High School!

The dishes created by the Madison students included Bourbon Smoked Scallops, Sweet Pea Puree with Vanilla Parmesan Foam; Pan Seared Muscovy Duck Breast with Fingerling and Fennel Confit, Rainbow Chard, Blueberry-Cabernet Beurre Rouge, and White Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla-Fig Gastrique and Spun Sugar Cage. Oh my!

A lot of attention has been paid to Madison’s football team, and rightfully so, but I think these culinary arts students deserve equal billing. Watching these students compete was an amazing and uplifting experience. They demonstrated planning, organization, team work, coolness under pressure, creativity, and a significant amount of cooking expertise.

So, congratulations to all of the Teen Iron Chef competitors, but especially to Madison High School teacher Justin Halbert and his talented students! They will now move on to the California ProStart Invitational competition at the Pasadena Convention Center on March 17 and 18. The ProStart Invitational is the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.

Good luck Madison!

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