Issue 29

Metro Culinary Competition 2009

Metro Culinary Competition 2009

The timer starts as the students hustle around to get all of their supplies out. Banging and clanging can be heard all around as the pots, pans, dishes, and utensils are being drug out from their moving containers. Then it all begins. The tempting aroma can be smelled all around as the ovens heat up and the foods are beginning to bake. Every last cut and measurement must be made just so if the teams want to win the competition.

The Metro Culinary Competition for the Metro area took place on Saturday, February 29th at Metro Community College. High schools from all across the Metro came together as their different teams prepared several dishes to present in different case studies. The competition has been taking place every year for the past four years. Before the competition was started, the high schools didn’t have many chances to compete.
“We used to just have a career day where the culinary students would come out to the college and get informed about the college and the different scholarships available to them,” said Jim Trebbien, the creator of the competition.

When the students would come out they would sit in desks in classrooms and just listen to the different reasons how the college could benefit them and their culinary dreams, and how they could receive scholarships for their talent. They would only sit and listen to this for six hours each day that they went.

“Many people started leaving the program and not returning,” said Trebbien. “They were bored from just sitting in a classroom, even though we were trying to show them all that we could offer to help them with their goals.”

The group that started the career days decided they need to find a way to keep people interested in the program and help them learn what the cooking career, and higher education for it, was like. That was when the big idea for the culinary competition was formed.

“We were just thinking what we could do,” said Trebbien. “Then we thought about having a culinary competition to get the people out to the college and see what it’s like while doing what they really are interested in doing anyway.”

The next step in creating this competition was to get teams and schools interested in participating. By doing this, the college could get more students to visit, and the schools could compete more for their culinary skills.

“We started calling up various schools in the area,” said Trebbien. “We then asked them if they had a team, and if they said no, then we told them to get one started.”

Indeed, the schools did come and participate. This year there was a total of twenty-four schools that competed. The competition is aiming to get fifty schools next year, and be open to a larger variety of students.

With all of the competition and participants, the stakes are high for the teams. Much preparation is put into cooking and being precise as they get ready for the big day.

“The students practice for hours every week trying to get every exact recipe down,” said Trebbien. “Some of them even do it every day just so they get extra practice.”

Luckily, the students aren’t forced to do all of this cooking and learning on their own. The college still participates with the teams and gives them some of the guidance and techniques to cooking that can make their work even better.

“We send out to each school at least one of our students who has had at least one year of culinary classes,” said Trebbien. “This way they get their training and they get a chance to help other students improve.”
The teams are not just competing for a title, or only a chance to go to state competition. Each team that places also receives scholarships for each member of that team.

“We raise funds all year round,” said Trebbien. “Then we award the scholarships to the teams that place the highest.”

One of the schools that received the scholarships this year was Omaha Benson Magnet School. They placed first in the case study. Each team member then received a one thousand dollar scholarship.

“Most of the participants wouldn’t have this kind of chance otherwise,” said Trebbien. “So we give them this opportunity.”

The culinary competition is not the same year after year. Each year the competition changes a little bit, and it seems to get tougher and more complicated. It is expected to only get better as the years go on.

“The setup never changes, but I think this year the food is a little bit different, as it gets better, more unique and intense,” said Trebbien. “We only hope for it to get better.”


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