JCCC Stories

Culinary academy hosts first high school competition

February 15, 2016


When professors and staff at the Wylie Hospitality and Culinary Academy decided to host a cooking competition for high school students, they had no idea how many schools would be interested.

When professors and staff at the Wylie Hospitality and Culinary Academy decided to host a cooking competition for high school students, they had no idea how many schools would be interested.

They invited all high schools in Kansas and Missouri and figured that the most teams they could handle would be about 16.

“We were thrilled to get 14,” said Ona Ashley, director of Hospitality Management at Johnson County Community College.

By the end of Friday, Feb. 5, the first JCCC HCA High School Team Culinary Challenge was in the books. And Jerry Marcellus, professor of hospitality management, said it went so well that he expects it will become an annual event.

“We are pleased,” Marcellus said. “Very pleased.”

Each high school team had four members. Once in the kitchen, they spent 15 minutes demonstrating their knife skills. They then prepared a first course, an entrée and a dessert. The students were competing not against each other but against a standard that was set.

Each team started with 100 points and, as they worked, judges deducted points for errors. A team that received a score between 90 to 100 earned a gold medal. A score between 80 to 89.99 delivered a silver medal and points between 70 to 79.99 brought a bronze. Any team that scored 69 and below received a certificate of participation.

Kylie Pierce and Bethany Kearns, both 17-year-olds from Eudora High School, were on a team that created seared scallops with an arugula salad, a pork tenderloin stuffed with apples and rosemary, and chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.

“I think we did pretty good, for our first competition,” said Pierce, who was waiting with her teammates for their food to be judged. “It was really fun, though.”

The team with the highest points was designated as the Best of Show. Olathe North High School won that honor. Each of those team members won a $1,000 scholarship to study at JCCC’s culinary program and their school received an engraved pan from Vita Craft.

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association underwrote the expenses and the area chef’s association helped with the judging.

The schools that participated were Oak Park High School; Eudora with two teams; Grandview; Herdon Center; Olathe North; Kansas City, Kansas; Staley; Abilene; Wamego; Liberty North; Blue Valley Academy; Center High School; and Blue Springs South.

Marcellus said that he was impressed with the talent that he saw.

“I never cease to be amazed to see what these high school students can do,” he said.