Culinary Throwdown tests high school students talents

Sussex tech holds cooking competition

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  • Team Navy

  • Team Black

  • Team Lime Green

  • Team Red

By Laurie Gordon

SPARTA — There was a heated Culinary Throwdown at Sussex County Technical School on a recent Thursday evening as four teams of students competed to see “Whose Food Reigns Supreme.” It wasn't just come-up-with-the-winning-menu: this was serious competition. The teams were allowed to develop an outline, but the protein (aka “the secret ingredient”) they would be using was not revealed until the competition began.

The teams had to prepare three courses and had an hour-and-a-half to do so. At the buzzer, work stations had to be cleaned and ready for food presentation. No outside food or equipment was allowed unless everyone had the option of using it.

“All the students worked very well together,” said Carla Brandt, Sodexo Food Service's general manager at Sussex County Technical School. “We hosted the event,with the help from fellow General Managers in our area Maureen Remner, from Vernon district, and Lauren Stuart from the Sparta district and help from our Regional Manager Kim Hays.”

Brandt added, “Mentors did a great job the team scores were very close we even needed the judges to review points for tie breaking. These students went all out they were professional , respectful and turned out some award winning dishes by anyone's standards.”

She said, “Our second place team (Team Black) led by Tom Makris lost more then half their team at the 11th hour, then we had a last minute volunteer to join their team. The Black team still managed to come in second with some show-stopping presentations and flavors.”

The Lime Green team also had some beautiful plates and some fantastic flavors. Team Red was clutch with a last minute mentor chef change, and they pulled off an eclectic spread.

Brandt said, “Team Navy, although they went with some old tried and true dishes for their presentation, took it over the top and all the flavors were on point, sometimes it's more difficult to go with old fashion dishes that people know and love. But they delivered the goods, both on flavor and presentation.”

The event included students in grades nine through 12, but mostly upperclassmen. There were four teams with six members on each and each team had a “mentor chef.”

The event was hosted and paid for Sodexo Food Service with Brandt taking care of the organizing and planning.

“I also reached out to our Graphics Department for help with signs and I also take care of making sure the signs are posted and local publications are informed of our up and coming even,” Brandt said.

The teams had about a week to prepare a menu based on the three courses without knowing the protein. That is the “secret ingredient” to be revealed before the competition. Also, there was an extra point advantage if they agreed to take the top secret ingredient.


Team Navy - 2018 Culinary Throw-down Champion and Best Starter

Lisa Carlson - Faculty mentor chef

Molly Taylor

Julia Catalino

Emily Verrone

Rocco Gigantelli

Norman Schutte

Team Black 2nd Place , Best Presentation and Best Dessert

Tom Makris - Faculty mentor chef

Emily Kuperus

Trent Hardin

Emily Coats

Team Lime Green - Honorable mention, fabulous key lime pie shooter

Mindy Schlereth - Faculty mentor chef

Sarah Wyer

hope young

Gabby Johnson

Ally Sterling

Jaz Gartner

Team Red - Honorable mention, Mexican hot chocolate and berry stuffed crepe churro

Maria Re - Faculty mentor chef

Lexi Kirchoff

Brianna Janke

Kylie Budich

Melanie Dembrowski

Lexie Piacentino

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