The Culinary Arts Program at Union City High School is relatively new. On Wednesday, twelve students competed in the first, UC Cook-Off Challenge, a takeoff of a popular Food Network reality show.
The students had to prepare a meal from scratch, a main entree and a dessert, using only the ingredients provided. They had 75 minutes to create magic.
The culinary program at UCHS began on a small scale while students were home during the pandemic, taking courses via Zoom. It has since grown into a full elective, with the Union City Board of Education partnering with Hudson County Community College and Chartwells, the district’s food service provider, giving students the opportunity to earn credits toward a certification at the college or in the food industry so they can gain employment.
Wednesday’s food competition was judged by administrators from the Board of Education, with all of the students receiving a set of cooking pots. The competitors also received “bucks” they could use in the cafeteria to purchase food during lunchtime.
It was definitely a fun exercise for the students and gave them insight into what a career in the food industry actually involves, including the pressures faced on a daily basis.
The winning team made a butternut squash quinoa salad with sauteed salmon and swiss chard. They also served a chocolate lava cake for dessert. The team includes Head Chef Mariela Doroteo, and Chefs Esmeralda Lazo, Britney Lora and Cittalii Colon.