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Logan Rodriguez and Mohammed Oudah Win Top Chef 2019 in Strong Competition

 Valley Echo Banner

 Isabella Nicosia'19
29 March 2019

For the past eight years, Passaic Valley’s Culinary Classes have participated in a Top Chef style competition. Ms. Zuzana Geleta, our current culinary teacher, and Ms. Peg Houle, retired culinary teacher, judged the twenty-nine teams that faced off in hopes of winning the title of Top Chef 2019. This year's winners included: Mounir Sakhat '19 and Zaid Sousan '19 in third place, Alyssa Snyder '20 and Bedour Issa '19 in second, and champions Logan Rodriguez '19 and Mohammed Oudah '19. 

Top Chef contestants; property of Mrs. Geleta There are three rounds that groups faced off in before declaring a winner. Round one began with twenty-nine pairs of students whose goal was to make a crepe out of assigned ingredients. Only fifteen teams moved on.

In the second round, teams were asked to create an entrée using pizza dough, chicken breast on the bone, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and anything they could find in the class refrigerator or pantry. Stakes were high, leaving only six teams to compete for the top prize.

In the end, senior team Logan Rodriguez and Mohammed Oudah took first place.A crepe prepared for round one of the competition; Photo Credit: Zuzana Geleta

This contest is a reminder to students just how enjoyable cooking can really be. “Mrs. Houle and I applied for a grant and we received starting money to begin this competition from the Education Foundation," said Ms. Geleta. "We wanted to encourage students to showcase their culinary skills by providing ingredients that we typically don't use because of budget constraints and additional time.”

A main dish prepared for round two of the competition; Photo Credit: Zuzana Geleta

The competition also serves as a source of pride for all contestants. "I am very proud of my partner and myself. Just getting to the final round was a success in it of itself," said second place winner Bedour Issa. "My partner and I went in and tried our best while having fun." 

Many students also find this competition beneficial to their culinary knowledge and serves as activity to inspire interest in the field. “Top Chef is really fun," said Jodaliz Alvarez '19. "It’s a good experience and even though I don’t really know what I’m doing with my future, I may go into culinary after this.”