Local high school students hope to stir up some college scholarship money on Monday. Nearly 100 students with a passion for the culinary arts participated in the 3rd annual Prostart High School Culinary Competition at the Old Capitol Inn. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are up for stake.
Everything from setting up, to chopping and cutting, preparations for numerous gourmet meals were underway inside of the Old Capitol Inn.
"I'm doing twice fried chicken, she's doing twice fried fries and banana frosting and she's doing wild rice," said McComb High School student Artis Magee.
Throughout the day, high school students worked in culinary teams. Part of their mission was to cook a three course meal, appetizer, entrée and dessert in one hour. A team of young ladies from Poplarville High School were the first ones' up.
"We're going to cook some chicken alfredo that's an entrée, our appetizer is going to be some fried eggplant," said Poplarville High School student, Adrienne Alonzo.
Alonzo's teammate, Kiera Watson said, "we basically got it to where we can do it in an hour, plate and everything, served and brought to the judges."
The students didn't have the luxury of a full kitchen. Their cooking space was confined to two tables with two portable burners.
"I've practiced with the cuts, cooking, so I have everything basically down," said Watson.
In addition to timing the students, judges scored the culinary teams on skills like clean and efficient cuts, organization and safety. Teams of students interested in restaurant management were also judged in areas related to operating a restaurant.
"This is easily the hardest competition they'll go through over the course of their academic year," said Grady Griffin, the Director of Education for the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association.
While food plays a huge role in the competition, that's not the only focus. At the end of the day, winning teams will go home with their share of $800,000 in college scholarship money.
"The smallest level of scholarship is $2,000 a year, but we have some as much as $25,000 annually," said Grady.
The winners from Monday's competition will head to Baltimore in April to represent Mississippi in the national Prostart competition. That's where students will compete for more than one million dollars in scholarship money.
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