High schoolers feel heat of kitchen competition

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. High schoolers with a taste for the culinary arts practiced their skills in an "Iron Chef" style atmosphere Saturday.

Young chefs from Palisade, Fruita, Durango, Aspen and Carbondale competed in the 12th annual Colorado Western Slope Prostart Culinary Competition.

The teams had to cook three courses in an hour at Western Colorado Community College.

They were judged on taste, execution of cooking and food presentation as a dress rehearsal for the state competition next month.

"Judges can actually taste our meals and give us critiques on them, so that they can actually give us improvements to do for the future competitions," said Taylor Schiller, a senior at Palisade High School.

Competitions are also an opportunity for students to rack up more hours in the kitchen, preparing them for future careers, Schiller said..

"Any kitchen will tell you you can have a degree in culinary arts, but they want to know that you're going to perform under the pressure and make sure you can perform well," he said.

The Prostart added a management-style competition this year, which asked students to create their own restaurant plans complete with a menu, restaurant design and marketing tactics.

The state competition is March 21 at Johnson and Wales University in Denver.

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