WHS students win multiple awards at regional cooking contest

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington High School family and consumer science students received multiple awards during the annual Culinary Skills Challenge on Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Worthington High School students Macy Sazama, Manuel Dominguez, Brayan Lopez, Lizbeth Longoria, Tania Rodriguez, Luz Vaquero, Janet Hernandez, Betelehem Amare, Marixa Fabian, Kimberly Kraft, Marivel Zarate, Nazareth Abraha, and Kasey Solma participated Thgursday in at the annual Culinary Skills Challenge at Southwest Minnesota State University.(Martina Baca / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Worthington High School family and consumer science students received multiple awards during the annual Culinary Skills Challenge on Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University.


WHS students competed against 216 others from schools around the region in categories such as knife skills, cooking, table setting and napkin design and menu design, among others.  


“The 14 of them (of all the class) took on the challenge so I am very proud of them,” said  Bonnie Bents, WHS family and consumer science teacher and the school’s FCCLA advisor. “I think it's very exciting because it gives them a chance to excel in an area that maybe they won't have even tried if it wouldn't have been in the competition.”  



Worthington’s Macy Sazasma won first place in table setting and napkin design, while Betty Amare placed first in the knife skills category and Luz Vaquero and Janet Hernandez third in menu design. In addition, the cooking team consisting of Manuel Dominguez, Tania Rodriguez, Lizbeth Longoria and Brayan Lopez Gonzalez won second place and were each awarded a $1,000 scholarship for the SMSU Culinology and Hospitality program.


“We didn't know what to expect in the competition because it was our first time doing it, so we were all pretty nervous,”  Rodriguez said. “However, at the end, it was not as bad as we thought because we were cooking all together and worked together as a team pretty well.”


Students were challenged to prepare a south-of-the-border dish that had to contain a protein, grain and vegetable. The Worthington cooking team decided to prepare mole with chicken, a Mexican dish. The team followed Rodriguez’s dad’s recipe, which consists of seasoned chicken and peppers along with Hispanic rice, pico de gallo and mole on top.  


The team had to prepare the plate in an hour and then present it to the judges. The plate not had to follow the judge’s guidelines, but also needed to be visually appealing.



Besides the WHS cooking team students, Sazasma said she was nervous about the competition since she didn't have many days to prepare. She made a rose napkin and a centerpiece with a Valentine’s Day theme.


Bents said the competition joins together the different aspects of hospitality, such as cooking as well as aesthetics.


Vaquero and Hernandez created a menu featuring Central American food - specifically from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.


Amare competed against two other students showcasing their abilities with Julienne and other cuts.



“At first it was very hard, but as I practiced and I watched videos on YouTube it became much easier,” she said.


Bents explained that the competition is a great way for students interested in hospitality to develop skills they could utilize in the future.  


Dominguez is one of the students interested in pursuing a career in hospitality after graduation, and said Thursday’s competition was a good opportunity to discover many facets of the field.


“In the future I do want to open my own business  - maybe in the food industry, maybe not me specifically cooking, but something to do with food,” Dominguez said.  


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