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Student Chefs Recreate Award-Winning Meal

April 27, 2009 — Students in the food services and culinary arts class at the St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) presented a three-course meal Monday at a special luncheon, serving the exact same meal they prepared for America's Best Student Chef competition.
A dozen people had the chance to try the colorful and tasty meal that garnered fourth place for the nine students who traveled to Monroe College in New Rochelle, N.Y., in mid April with their instructor, Chef Anton Doos.
"It was a lifetime experience for the students," Doos said. "This was their first team competition, and they worked well together. They were a little nervous and made a couple of mistakes, but the overall comments from the judges were very nice."
With their budget limitation and resources they did very well, he said.
The team missed the finals by only five points, Doos said. The students were judged on sanitation, setup, following the recipe, resources used, teamwork, presentation and taste. The V.I. team scored high in use of resources and on the entree the team prepared, even though it was a little overdone. A student with a Crucian bias didn't think the steak was done enough, so he put it back in the oven until it was no longer pink, Doos said.
For starters on Monday, the appetizer was a flavorful, coconut-infused, pureed acorn squash soup with a nice combination of curry and ginger, garnished with fried plantains.
The entree was a marinated flank steak stuffed with onions and spinach, drizzled with a pan reduction. This reporter isn't fond of steak, but it was very tender and juicy, and the spinach stuffing made for a colorful dish. Complementing the steak was a sweet mash of white potatoes and yams with a topping of steamed spinach. A side of fried christophene, also known as chayote, was served.
"I'm really impressed with the level of skill, since they are high school students," said Torrance Beavers, a chef at Beach Side Cafe in Frederiksted. "The soup has good texture and a lot of flavor. The presentation is beautiful, with a lot of color in the dish with the brown, orange and green food choices."
Dessert was a luscious almond brittle basket holding a lime cheesecake covered with marinated strawberries, blueberries and mango marinated in a passion-fruit concentrate.
"We think they should have gotten first place on the dessert alone," said Kiran Allen, controller of St. Croix Financial, donors of $10,000 for the students' trip to New York. Her group is incredibly proud and impressed with the maturity of the students and what Doos has instilled in them, Allen said.
Doos has taken students to yearly competitions in the 10 years he has been an instructor at the vocational school. The trips are not only culinary trips, but historical and educational, too. He is currently working on plans to take students to Europe on a culinary tour of England, France, Italy and Switzerland. The students cater events to raise funds. They work as the Good to Chew Catering Company.
"This type of schooling has what the students are interested in," said Willard John, principal at CTEC. "They still have to read, write, do math and learn theory in the classroom."
One of the students, Senablorde Ofori, said she loves to cook and will attend the Art Institute of Florida to pursue a career in food management.
"The competition and trip to New York was the highlight of my senior year," she said.
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