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Sweet Victory for Turano & Watkins in Top Chef

Valley Echo  Sydney Meehan'18
4 April 2017


Top Chef first place winners Alessandra Turano'17 and Chris Watkins'17.  This year's Top Chef competition took place on March 24th and was one of the best ones yet. After a fierce  competition, first place went to Alessandra Turano '17 and Chris Watkins '17, who prepared Pan di Spagna cake. The team also prepared chicken with spinach over a prosciutto caper sauce.

Both culinary teachers, Mrs. Heidi Kantor and Mrs. Zuzana Geleta worked diligently all year to teach their students how to bolster their knowledge and cooking skills for the competition.

The final six groups had to choose a restaurant theme and prepare an entree, a side dish and a dessert from their "own restaurant". The students in the final rounds chose a variety of cuisines for their dishes including Italian, French, and Cajun. The teams were encouraged to use fresh fruits and vegetables in their dishes.

Both first place winners were given an ice cream maker along with ingredients , a $50 Visa card, and a small trophy. Second place winners each received a blender. All finalists were awarded gift cards and a "Top Chef" t-shirt.

Sponge layered cake rolled with almonds; photo credit: Mrs. Geleta "It is an honor to win and be a part of the competition. The thing that helped us the most was our prior knowledge of cooking and what dishes to prepare, plus the more advanced skills we learned in culinary class," said first place finisher Chris Watkins '17.

Mrs. Geleta described Chris and Alessandra's  dish as "outstanding", but she also extended praise tothe other teams.

Obi Eid '17 and Nikola Miladinov '17 presented a fish dish and a layered cake covered with almonds "that tasted and looked like it belonged in the finest bakery." Cat Cole'17 and Alessandro Pinto '17 made  pasta from scratch along with a lemon tart topped with berries.

"It was very difficult to decide the winners this year. Many students practiced before the competition and spent a lot of time perfecting their skills," Geleta noted.

She added that deciding a winner was difficult because one mistake could cost the team a round. Eighty students (40 teams) entered  the competition this year, only twelve (six teams) making it to the last round. All participants showed tremendous effort.

"I want to thank the PV Education Foundation that makes it possible for our kids to be part of Top Chef. Also Eric Getz (a PV alumnus who studied at The Culinary Institute of America) and Mr. Rich Deal (manager of Jose Tejas) who took time off from their jobs to attend and offer their expertise as judges. I also want to extend a thank you to Mrs. Peg Houle, who retired as a culinary teacher last year, and helped make this event successful once again," said Geleta.