Up Close With CC Minton: NYC Student Chefs Turn Cooking into Cash

CCAPComfront2By CC Minton On Thursday April 2nd, twenty-two New York City public high school students competed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Cooking competition. CCAPCompfounderHeld at the award-winning International Culinary Center, the next generation of chefs seized the opportunity to turn a passion for cooking into college scholarship dollars.The mouth-watering competition was a 2 hour challenge where students cooked up French cuisine that included hunter’s chicken with tourne potatoes and dessert crepes with pastry cream drizzled with chocolate sauce. Minute by minute, students were critiqued on the taste of their dish, presentation, organization, sanitation, timing, techniques and skills all within the intensity of a 4-star restaurant kitchen atmosphere.
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So how did they get the opportunity to compete? Academic achievement, personal essays , performance in a preliminary competition as well as their desire to pursue post-secondary education and an interest in the food service industry were the criteria.
Esteemed judges for the final competition included:

  • Executive Chef Aaron Bludorn, Café Boulud
  • Executive Chef Matt Hoyle, Nobu 57
  • Executive Chef/Owner Maria Loi, Loi
  • Executive Pastry Chef Mame Sow, The Cecil & Minton’s Supper Club
  • Executive Chef Mike Poiarkoff, Vinegar Hill House
  • Corporate Chef Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos
  • VP of Culinary & Pastry Arts Candy Argondizza, International Culinary Center
  • Private Chef Swainson Brown, Elizabeth Ross Johnson Foundation
  • Executive Pastry Chef Stephanie Grajales, The Ritz Carlton Central Park South
  • Executive Chef Cesar Gutierrez, Lexington Brass
  • Sous Chef Michael DiCicco, Bouchon Bakery

Susan Robbins, President of C-CAP was on hand for the competition and shared her passion for the program. “C-CAP transforms lives of at-risk youth through the culinary arts.  We enrich the programs in public schools by providing job training, enhanced education and career opportunities in the food industry.  Students are introduced to C-CAP during their sophomore or junior year in high school.  We also have a new program that we started last year where we provide students with a special apprenticeship scholarship to New York City College of Technology (City Tech).  These select students will be enrolled in City Tech’s culinary/hospitality program and have the incredible opportunity to receive credit for their culinary courses by being paid interns at Daniel Boulud’s restaurants.  As you can see, the chefs have religion on our program because they know that they’re getting great talent and changing lives in the process.”

C-CAP Alumni and Executive Pastry Chef Mame Sow at The Cecil & Minton’s Supper Club was a first time judge at the competition and was excited for the students.  “I know how nervous some of the students are but they were focused.  They did a great job and congratulations to them all.”

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So what’s next on the menu for the student chefs of New York City?   Winners will be announced at C-CAP’s New York Awards Breakfast on Friday, April 17th, 2015 at The Pierre Hotel.  Good luck to the competitors and much success.

Photos By Estela D’Agati-Duce, Stela Chic Photography

For more information, visit www.ccapinc.org


 

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