Flagstaff culinary students describe their road to competition - AZEdNews
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Flagstaff culinary students describe their road to competition

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  • Karin Eberhard/ Flagstaff Unified School District

The Flagstaff High School Culinary Team Members Jackson Gilmore, Santana Hernandez And Cameron Torres And Their Teacher Patti Pastor Hosted A Mock Competition That Mimicked The Actual Preliminary Competition. Photo Courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

The Flagstaff High School culinary team is well known for their amazing food and competitive skills. Every year at this time they are preparing for competitions by practicing their skills, holding and participating in mock competitions and talking to chefs throughout Flagstaff to learn best practices.

On January 10th the FHS Culinary Team members Jackson Gilmore, Santana Hernandez and Cameron Torres and their teacher Patti Pastor hosted a mock competition that mimicked the actual preliminary competition. The students from FHS, Payson, Chinle and Ganado High School were judged while executing a standing, molded cucumber salad filled with small diced cuts of jicama, yellow pepper, red onion, cucumber, red pepper in their special vinaigrette as well as a French rolled omelet. Both are culinary competencies.

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Culinary students preparing courses. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

Judges included a C-CAP representative, several industry chefs and alumni of the culinary program. The team members also take advantage of other mock competitions around the State of Arizona as they prepare for the competitions that will begin in February.

The three team members all have the same goal; they want to continue their education in the culinary and hospitality fields.

Jackson Gilmore -“Ended up in intro (to culinary) and enjoyed it and wanted to learn how to cook before college. Then went on to Culinary 1 and fell in love with the line, fire, and knives.”

His goal is to gain knowledge and experience through the competitions and hopefully earn a scholarship to continue his education.

Santana Hernandez has a very personal reason for wanting to pursue culinary as a career, “Ever since I was little I watched my mom cook and she would ask what I wanted to cook and I always said cookies.”

In middle school, he started to learn knife skills and what tools to use. In high school, he has taken all the
culinary classes and Mrs. Pastor asked him why he was not signed up for the competition team.

Even though he did not have the confidence to sign up for the team, “On the first day of school I noticed my schedule had changed “and he was added to the team. “I found that this was all stuff I could do and Mrs. Pastor gave me the confidence I needed.”

Santana’s goals are to get a scholarship and go to CCC and NAU and then work at a bakery or restaurant. “I honestly
love this program and baking banana nut bread and chocolate chip cookies.”

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The students cucumber salads ready for the judges. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

Cameron Torres also has a personal reason for pursuing culinary arts “I look up to my dad and he had gone into culinary when he was 15. So when I was little I would watch my dad leave to work and go do his thing. At home, my mom would teach me things. My sophomore year I took intro to culinary and now in my senior year I am taking 3 culinary classes.”

He goes on to explain, “The competition gives me confidence to do things on my own. I am doing this for me and for fun.”

After high school, Cameron will attend college for his bachelor’s degree and then in the future would like to open his own restaurant.

We wish these focused and talented young men the best of luck as they begin their culinary competitions.