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Area High Schools Compete in Culinary Challenge

Ten area high schools participated in the first CareerQuestTN Culinary Challenge on Friday, February 24th. Sponsored by Bristol Motor Speedway and Food City, and hosted at the Levy Restaurants Kitchen at the Speedway, the event highlights the region's students and programs.

Each participating culinary program was provided with rules developed by a team of area chefs and teachers. Students perfected their recipes, plating, and presentation. Beginning at 9:00 a.m. last Friday, students checked in with their supplies, and met their technical judge, each of which is a chef in the region. From check-in to presentation, every step was timed, including 45 minutes to cook everything. Time judges kept students moving, and a sanitation judge observed all food prep, and provided feedback to each school following their presentation.

A panel of tasting judges sampled every dish, provided the professional opinion, and gave each team insight on their menu, and presentation. Tony Mammarella of Food City, and a tasting judge for the event shared that, "we had an incredibly successful event that gave real-life experience and career expectation to a large number of youth who may not otherwise get the experience."

After tastings and reviewing every metric, Science Hill High School's team, which included Nancy B., Junius F., Anna J., and Gianna M. won the CareerQuestTN Culinary Challenge Trophy. Rounding out the top three spots were Unicoi County High School, with instructor Rachele Shurtz in second place, and Elizabethton High School, with instructor Jay Shurtz in third.

"Hospitality & tourism is such a critical piece of our economy in the region and across the state," shared Lottie Ryans, Director of Workforce & Literacy Initiatives with the FTDD. She went to to say that, "culinary is a key piece, so uplifting the excellent programs in our region and allowing employers to see the quality of the students’ work and their future pipeline of employees is important." The CQTN Culinary Challenge is the newest career exploration event, hosted by the First Tennessee Development District. These events include CQTN...It's All About Business, which will take place March 3, 2022 and is focused on the business services sector, including banking, accounting, and human resources sector. CareerQuest Tennessee, which brings 4,000 students from across Northeast Tennessee to the campus of ETSU will be held on April 27th & 28th and CQTN...Hospitality Works, which take place in the fall of 2023.

For questions related to this or other news from the FTDD, please contact Mark Stevans,

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