If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Four Grade 10 students from Tec Voc High School (TVHS) proved they can handle the heat at the fourth annual Localvore Iron Chef Cook-Off on Feb. 7 at Winnipeg Technical College (130 Henlow Bay). The team took second place in Tier 1 of the competition.
Fifteen-year-olds Edward Sotto, Roshaira Salvador, Kristina Racraquin, and Montgomery Marek made up the culinary team representing TVHS, the Vesper Hornets.
Salvador explained that the team was named after the style of cuisine they had prepared for the competition.
"Vesper means Asian hornets," Salvador said, referring to the Asian predatory wasp, the Vespa velutina. "Our dish is all about Asian fusion, with seafood and spicy and sweet flavours."
The Vespers prepared Manitoba seared honey and spiced Arctic char with fresh herbed linguine and pepper salsa. They competed against two other schools in their tier — Louis Riel Arts and Technology Centre (LRATC) and Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School (LSRCSC).
The competition divided competing teams into four tiers. Tier 1 was for culinary arts and commercial cooking, Tier 2 for food nutrition and home economics, Tier 3 for aspiring chefs, and Tier 4 for post-secondary culinary arts.
LRATC placed first in Tier 1 and LSRCSC won third.
Each team cooked and plated a predetermined dish within a one-hour time frame to be tasted and critiqued by a panel of judges based on the basic principles of cooking, such as presentation, taste, and cleanliness.
Prior to the actual competition, the Vespers said they’d been practising preparing their dish since November last year.
"We practised a lot," the four of them said, almost in unison.
"The last practice was Feb. 4, and I think we did well," Salvador said.
"We agreed it was the best practice we ever had, because everything went perfectly. Everything was on time," Sotto said.
"Well, the pasta maker was not (working properly)," Salvador disagreed.
"It was still good!" the other three members shot back with laughter.
"When we first started practising, we couldn’t even get the food out in under an hour," Marek continued. "But now, we can actually prep and make the dish in under an hour."