Students dish it up in culinary arts competition

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 8, 2021

 Lincoln High school senior Dalaya Bridges-El and her team made cheesy potatoes for the competition.

Lincoln High school senior Dalaya Bridges-El and her team made cheesy potatoes for the competition.

Photo by Deb Jacques


WARREN — Bon appétit!

It was time to feast on delicious meals when students in the culinary arts program at the Lincoln High School Career and Technology Mark A. Kedzior Center showed off their cooking skills in a competition Oct. 29.

The students, working in teams, created their own specialties from scratch and then presented them to a group of judges.

Under the direction of instructor/chef Ramon Herrera, the event gave the budding cooks the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in class and receive feedback on their cooking skills. Five classes participated throughout the day.

“We had all kinds of desserts, entrees and salads,” Herrera said. “The biggest thing I love about this project is that it’s not just a cooking competition, but it’s about leadership, responsibility and teamwork. They’ve been working all week.”

Herrera said he was “proud” of how well the students performed.

“Thank you for the good work and the hard work you have done,” he told them. “Beautiful. Beautiful.”

The young chefs were judged on the following five categories: professionalism, sanitation, cleanup, presentation, and taste.

“They’re doing really good. They’re using a lot of what we taught them this year,” teacher assistant Jordan Singleton said. “We’re getting all the kids to take their own culture and mix with other cultures to create their own style of cooking.”

Juniors Kurtis Rhodes, Titus Evans and seniors Christian Jackson and Da’Naijh Thomas worked together to create the perfect nacho dish that included meat, tomatoes, peppers and cheese. To make the nacho chips, the group cut up tortillas, fried them and added seasoning.

“I feel like we’re going to win,” Evans said. “The class is nice. My favorite thing to cook so far was when we smoked a turkey and we made homemade pickles.”

Early in the competition, the judges included U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Vincent Minutello, U.S. Army Sgt. Justin Dean, and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Hall.

“Chef runs a really good kitchen here. There’s a lot of respect shown in the kitchen,” Minutello said, adding everything he tried was “really good.” “Some things need some tweaking or others, they were spot on … things you could see at a high-end restaurant.”

When Julissa Wilson and Kayla Nails and other group members began preparing their shrimp Alfredo, something was missing: their shrimp. So, the group had to rethink their meal and came up with an alternative: turkey Alfredo.

“This is very good actually,” Minutello said. “A different touch with the turkey. Good job.”

“So you worked with what you had,” Hall said. “Good improvising. It’s good.”

Hall is the U.S. Army recruiter at the U.S. Recruiting Station in Eastpointe. He is the liaison between the station and Lincoln, Fitzgerald and Center Line high schools.

Herrera has coordinated other competitions in the past. For several years, the students went up against each other in the school’s Meals Ready to Eat, or MRE, competition. MREs are prepackaged food rations for the United States Armed Forces and usually include an entree, side dish, cracker or bread, a dessert, a beverage, and a flameless ration heater. At the competition earlier this month, students worked in groups to prepare meals from the prepackaged foods. The goal of the competition was to apply what the students have learned in the culinary arts course and also to show the armed forces how much their service is appreciated.