PHOTO GALLERY: Cooking competition

By Victorino Martinez, 17, Daniel Murphy Catholic HS
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It was impressive to see the 26 students working feverishly in the cooking competition for Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). The program trains teens at 27 local high schools to cook professionally, and once a year they compete for scholarships and internships. They have to prove their skills by preparing two classic French dishes—chicken with potatoes (poulet chasseur avec pommes de terre) and crêpes with cream and chocolate sauce (crêpes sucrées avec crème patisserie et sauce au chocolat). At the Los Angeles Trade Tech kitchen, there was a mix of lovely smells from the spices and sauces as the cooks, clad in white, struggled to finish in the two hours allowed.

One chef lifted up his chicken with tongs to see if it was ready. Another wasn’t able to get the pastry cream sauce right. She had to immediately dump it and start preparing another blend with no time to spare, while nearby someone else had cut a strawberry to look like a flower with perfect petals to decorate his crêpe, which is like a fancy French tortilla. You could feel their stress as their every move was being watched by the judges, who were professional chefs from posh restaurants like the Four Seasons.

As the two hours came to an end, and they rushed to put the final touches on their dishes, you almost wanted to cheer, “Go! Do it!”

It was just stunning at the end to smell and see the dishes they created. They looked, and tasted, like plates that would be served at a restaurant in Beverly Hills.

For more information on the program, see