High School Students Show Their Cooking Chops

Top Student Chef Competition

High school students race the clock to put together a winning meal.

We got a glimpse of Chicago’s culinary future Friday night at the Restaurateurs Ball, and it’s a bright one.

A group of 12 high school students from throughout the state donned their “Top Chef” hats to participate in a timed cooking competition that involved using an entire basket full of ingredients that were a mystery until the clock was ticking, and teaming up with each other to cook for the first time — a challenge to be sure! The event was a fundraiser for the Illinois Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation scholarship program, which gives scholarships to Illinois students pursuing college degrees and certifications in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Tammy and I were proud to judge the competition along with a distinguished panel of experts — Chef Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia, Chef Jimmy Bannos Sr. from The Purple Pig and Heaven on Seven, and Chef Mario Garcia from the Hilton.

While guests grazed among the food and drink tables lining the perimeter of the room, the students put together a meal that had to include chicken, salami, Brussels spouts, sliced almonds, and scallions.  All of the final dishes were good, but team three’s salami rice pushed them up a notch for the win! Congrats to all the students.

Learn more about the foundation and culinary scholarship money available.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Team three's winner, winner chicken dinner.