In their first year of entering the Whipping Up Wellness Student Chef Culinary Competition, the St. Croix Central High School culinary team brought home first place with their stuffed pepper with a tomatillo sauce.
The culinary team, which is made up of four seniors from Courtney Hawkins' Advanced Foods course, consists of Noah Carlson, Raini Denny-Broker, Luke Jensen and Nick Jones. The team had to create an original recipe using the guidelines set by the Department of Public Instruction Nutrition Program.
"On the day of the competition, the team was given a tour of the commercial kitchen area, introduced to the judges and other teams," Hawkins said. "Within minutes the competition was underway. The kitchen smelled amazing with the five teams cooking their recipes. Despite having some different ingredients to use, the team adjusted the flavors of their dish to enhance their recipe. SCC was the fourth team to present their dish to the judges."
The judges of this year's competition included Justin Johnson, Executive Chef and Owner of Sustainable Kitchens of Milwaukee; John Dettmann, Director of Performance for UW-Badgers Athletics; Amy Korth, Director of healthTIDE; Becky Terry, Food Services Supervisor of DeForest Schools; and Samia Hamdan, Senior Nutritionist USDA Food and Nutrition Service. The competition took place May 18 in Madison.
"The judges gave wonderful reviews of the stuffed pepper. The tomatillo sauce was a favorite amongst the judges. Justin Johnson amazed the team with his compliments of the overall balance of flavor and textures of the dish. He loved the tomatillo sauce and said that the presentation and culinary level of the dish was restaurant quality," Hawkins said.
After cleaning up their work station, the judges made the announcement that the St. Croix Central team was the 2017 champions.
"Congratulations to this team for working and never giving up," Hawkins said. "Their hard work and dedication truly showed that they are higher level culinary students who were willing to take a risk and create an original recipe that earned them a state title."
The culinary team traveled to Madison May 17, but before arriving they were able to tour and have a special meeting with two Master Cheesemakers from Cady Cheese Factory. The group took the opportunity on their stop at Cady to talk with the Master Cheesemakers about their Three Pepper Golden Jack, which is one of the ingredients used in the team's stuffed pepper recipe. The team spent an hour and a half of one-on-one time with Bruce Willis and Jason Kempe where they got to ask questions and talk about why they chose the cheese for the dish.
"The team truly appreciated the tour and opportunity to meet Bruce and Jason along with getting cheese from Cady Cheese Factory," Hawkins said.