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KCKCC Culinary Team Earns Gold Medal at Competition

Posted on Monday, March 09, 2020

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s High School Culinary Team has proven once again that there is plenty of talent in the college’s Culinary Arts program.

The KCKCC Culinary Team competed in the 5th annual High School Team Culinary Challenge, hosted by Johnson County Community College Feb. 7, receiving a Gold Medal as well as Best in Show. Students were awarded $5,000 in total for scholarships. Team members included – Nataly Duran, junior at Washington High School; Bao Yang, senior at Wyandotte High School; Tatyana Shores, senior at Journey School of Choice in the Turner School District; Liliana Rodriguez, senior at Wyandotte High School and Axuni Ontiveros, senior at Washington High School. The students attend the Dr. Thomas R. Burke Technical Education Center through the college’s high school program. The team is coached by Chef Justin Mitchell.

“We put in so much hard work (leading up to the competition), the outcome was worth it,” Duran said. “It was an opportunity to compete and show we were good enough to not only get gold, but also Best in Show.”

Fifteen teams participated in this year’s competition, including three high school programs well-known on the national level. Chef Justin said many do not know how talented students in Kansas and Missouri are in relation to the culinary arts.

“They never missed a practice, not one of them, and they got better each and every time,” he said. “My only concern during the competition was if we would make time because of the number of components some of the dishes had. The food they made that day looked better than anything they had ever done in practice.”

Shores said she believes members of the team grew in their confidence during the process, which helped the team to form bonds with each other.

“Everyone pretty much cried when we found out how well we had done,” said Shores, who plans to continue in the culinary arts field after graduating high school. “All of our dishes were spot on. We really felt confident about how we did.”

In the culinary competition, each team was responsible for preparing a three-course meal in 60 minutes. In addition, they had 15 minutes to demonstrate knife skills. Teams were not competing against each other, but against a set of standards established by the American Culinary Federation. Teams started with 100 points and received deductions based on errors made.

“I felt liked we worked hard and put all of our heart into what we made that day,” Ontiveros said. “The experience helped me to have confidence in myself. I learned to believe in what I can do.”

Students had the opportunity to try out for the competition team in December and started working with each other in January. The team created the menu, which included an appetizer of smoked trout with roasted beets, braised leek, wakame seaweed, mozzarella and beet emulsion; an entrée of braised pork belly with celeriac puree, braised vegetables, baked apple, crackling and braising liquid and a dessert of strawberries and cream with vanilla cream, mint puree, chocolate dirt, angel hair, white chocolate, strawberry coulis and macerated strawberry.

“It was really competitive, but we knew our dishes were good,” Yang said. “It was such a great experience. I learned new things and made some great new friends. I learned to stop doubting myself. I now feel more capable.”

Rodriguez said she has always enjoyed cooking and felt that by being a part of the High School Culinary Arts Team, it gave her a chance to be more part of the culinary industry.

“Realizing we got the gold medal was exciting,” she said. “What we learned during this experience will stick with us no matter what we do. Being a part of this really showed that cooking is my passion and will push me more to go toward that in my future career.”

For more information about the KCKCC culinary arts program, visit or call 913-288-7800 or for Leavenworth students, 913-288-7750.

Category: Academics

Keywords: Culinary

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