Nine aspiring chefs with a craving for culinary put their kitchen skills to the test as they competed for tuition scholarships March 2 at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Raleigh – Durham, a campus of South University.
At the end of the day, Apex High School senior Wesley Beske stood triumphant.
Beske took a gold medal and first place in The Art Institute’s Best Teen Chef Competition for high school seniors. Ashley Hinkle of Hillsborough, a senior at Orange High, took a silver medal and second.
During the cook-off competition, the finalists were asked to showcase their talent and skill by preparing and serving a two-course meal in just two hours. The meal consisted of an appetizer of shrimp cocktail and an entrée of sautéed chicken breast with creative garnish, rice pilaf and broccoli sauté.
Competitors were judged on five technical skills including knife skills, safety, sanitation, organization, cooking techniques, and clean-up, and five qualities of the finished dishes – temperature, taste, texture, portion size and presentation.
Beske earned a $4,000 tuition scholarship and Hinkle a $1,000 tuition scholarship to The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Raleigh – Durham.
“Despite the stiff competition, our winners this year truly stood out,” said Chef Joseph Brown, Culinary Director at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Raleigh – Durham. “Their passion and enthusiasm for the culinary arts is inspiring and we look forward to developing their talent in our culinary education programs.”
Beske, whose love of cooking started when he was a sophomore in high school, learned his way around the kitchen from his father. He hopes to work in a resort and eventually open his own restaurant.
But right now he has some happy customers in his family, who frequently request his signature dish: enchiladas topped with Fritos. Outside of the kitchen, Wesley’s other passion is playing the drums.
Cook-off competitions were held at all participating International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes locations across the U.S. and Canada in March. In addition to earning their scholarship awards, all local Best Teen Chef first place winners will have the opportunity to win a trip to New York City for a very special food experience. National judges will evaluate the materials they submitted to enter the competition and select one national winner.