ROSE HILL — Senior Joseph Beatty, along with is classmates at Union High School, made tasty steamed broccoli, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.
In the next room, the aroma of Korean style pork chops and duchess potatoes tickled the noses of four judges before the meals were served. Caramel apple crumb cakes with ice cream was the dessert.
“I feel that we did very well,” said Beatty, a student in the advanced Foods II class. “All of the different recipes that I was able to sample were very thought out and very well executed. It was just an overall great achievement and team effort.”
Beatty was one of many students who participated in the school’s “Top Chef” competition. The Friday morning class competed with the winning third place class that made a chicken parm lasagna, a baby arugula salad, roasted vegetables and ricotta cheesecake with fresh strawberries. For their victory, they will receive a trip to to Alfredo’s in Downtown Clinton for a tour of the restaurant and a meal.
The classes were inspired to have the competition after watching “Top Chef” on the Food Network. Students worked in groups to prepare a main dish, two sides and a dessert. During the show, chefs have to present their dishes to judges. At UHS, contestants were responsible for doing everything on their own. Afterwards, the judges provided feedback which included praises and suggestions to help the students become better cooks.
Betsey Lane, a teacher for the Foods II class, invited several school professionals to serve as judges. They included Union Middle School Principal Theresa Melenas; Ginger Stone, director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) for Sampson County Schools; Valerie Owens, CTE program administrative assistant; and UHS Teacher Brenda Brummett.
“I think they did a great job,” Melenas said. “It’s good to see the cooking and the variety of food that’s not regional,” Melenas said.
As a former coach and physical education teacher, Lane loves competition.
“It’s a fantastic experience for them,” Lane said. “When I first got this class, they knew the basics, but this way, they’re able to put some competition into it.”
Along with the judges, Principal Julie Hunter enjoyed tasting the food too.
“It’s a wonderful way for our Foods classes to showcase their talents and compete against one another,” Hunter said. “It’s good collaboration with the kids and Miss Lane. I appreciate her for bringing these type of activities to the classroom.”
The class is part of the school’s Family and Consumer Science program which provides students skills for the workforce and food industry. They also have the opportunity to earn certifications in certain areas.
Stone enjoyed watching the students showcase their talents.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students and it’s wonderful opportunity for us to see what they’re learning in the classes,” Stone said.