Culinary Competitions

Hawks, Scorpions win regional food contests
Posted on 12/17/2019
VICTORVILLE -- Silverado and Hesperia high schools have claimed the 2019 titles in a pair of regional culinary competitions hosted by the Victor Valley Union High School District.

The Hawks were denied their fourth straight Sweet Genius baking competition title on Friday at Victor Valley High, but Silverado captured its first High Desert Chopped victory as it hosted the cooking competition last month.

The events, now in their fourth year, feature culinary students from high schools across the High Desert. Each team of students creates dishes in just a few hours with a common theme and/or list of ingredients, with no direct instruction from their teachers once the competition starts.  

“I love how it brings all the kids together, and sometimes they make friends from other schools,” said Kelli Valencia, the VVHS culinary teacher whose kitchen had hosted Chopped for three years until hosting Sweet Genius this year. Valencia said VVHS and Silverado have two of the biggest student kitchens in the High Desert, which makes them ideal spots to host the events.   

Teacher Geovanni Sanchez’s Silverado team featuring students Oscar Villatoro, Joshua Rangel, Jonathan Williams and Nathan Kim claimed their first High Desert Chopped victory with their MoMo’s Gumbo. Williams said the gumbo was so-named because it “tastes so good, you’re going to want some mo’.”

The theme for Sweet Genius was Friday the 13th, so teams used macabre inspirations for their desserts.

Hesperia impressed the judges with a trio of dessert plates depicting a murder investigation, including a rapberry truffle for a drop of blood and a cake served with a scalpel to cut it. Students Hector Duenis, Salvador Gonzalez, Dustin Austin and Brian Wynn claimed the title for the Scorpions along with instructor Christopher Pisciotti. 

The entrants are judged by local professionals in the restaurant and catering industries. 

“I like to see that the teachers are supportive and it’s all about the students,” said Falan Grunert, a Starbucks store manager and VVHS alum who has served as a judge for several of the competitions.  “I’ve seen some of the students a couple of years now and it’s great to see them mentoring their classmates now.”

The competitions also featured teams from Apple Valley, Barstow, Granite Hills, Lucerne Valley, Oak Hills, Serrano and Sultana, as well as a second Silverado team. 
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