VICTORVILLE — A team of Victor Valley High School students took first place Thursday at the inaugural High Desert Chopped, a culinary competition featuring eight local high schools.
Inspired by the cooking show “Chopped,” the contest was held at the VVHS culinary center and put together by the Mountain Desert Career Occupational Pathways JPA along with culinary arts teachers across the High Desert.
With pre-selected ingredients, students were given a limited amount of time to prepare a dish that was judged by local industry professionals. The Victor Valley team of Gialani Shannon, Jennifer Hernandez, Juan Garcia and Jonhatan Yanez celebrated with their instructor Kelli Valencia after the judges awarded them first place for their chicken pita bread sandwich with cranberry garlic salsa, sweet potato chips and vegetable soup.
Teams from Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Granite Hills, Hesperia, Serrano and Silverado high schools also competed, and each team got positive feedback from the judges. Each judge is a manager for a Victorville food establishment, including Judy Islas of Chili’s, Falan Grunert of Starbucks and Perry Shaw of Sonic.
The VVHS team was honored at the most recent VVUHSD Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 2 along with students and staff from Adelanto High School, which finished second in the judges' voting.
The Jackrabbits took home a trophy depicting a butcher’s knife created by Barstow metal shop students, and they plan to paint it green to celebrate their victory.
Valencia said the event is not only a fun competition for students; it also helps prepare them for the SkillsUSA national competition later this school year.
Mountain Desert Career Occupational Pathways JPA also plans to host a regional baking competition called “Sweet Genius” on Dec. 8 at Silverado High.
Photo Captions: TOP: The Victor Valley High School team (back row, from left) including teacher Kelli Valencia and students Gialani Shannon, Jennifer Hernandez, Juan Garcia and Jonhatan Yanez were awarded first place at High Desert Chopped by judges (front row, from left) Perry Shaw of Sonic, Falan Grunert of Starbucks and Judy Islas of Chili’s. The regional culinary competition was held Thursday at Victor Valley High and featured teams from eight schools across the High Desert. BELOW: Students and staff from VVHS join their principal Nancy Noyer, left, along with the board and Dr. Williams at the Nov. 2 board meeting. They are joined by Adelanto students Bry'Aunn Phillips (wearing the black hat), Dheja Williams (gray sweatshirt), AHS culinary teacher Tyler Busch (in red) and AHS Principal Ebony Purcell (far right).