WESTFORD — Students in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs at Nashoba Valley Technical High School had all their skills put to the test in two separate contests held on the same day, March 22.
Nashoba Tech’s in-school restaurant, The Elegant Chef, continued a more-than-decade-long award-winning streak at the Taste of Nashoba competition, produced by the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce and held at Lawrence Academy in Groton.
Nashoba Tech won Best Dessert for its pina colada dip, spicy fruit salsa and toasted coconut, and Best Presentation for the dessert. They also placed second in the appetizer category for the Mexican Shrimp Cocktail — all while competing against such first-class restaurants as Gibbet Hill Grill in Groton, Bailey’s Bar & Grille in Townsend, the 110 Grill in Chelmsford, Mariano’s Ristorante in Pepperell, and Evviva Trattoria in Westford.
Earlier in the day, chef instructor Carley Capraro took six students to the annual National ProStart Invitational, the country’s premier competition for high-school students focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.
Nearly 400 students compete annually in front of industry leaders, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation trustees and state restaurant associations in hopes of earning coveted scholarships from the nation’s best culinary and restaurant-management programs.
The regional competition was held at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, where eight Nashoba Tech students were pitted against other schools’ teams to create a three-course meal in one hour.
Nashoba Tech’s ambitious menu consisted of an appetizer of pan-seared scallops with curried cauliflower mash and a tomato ginger shallot chutney; an entree of poppy-seed-crusted loin of kangaroo with root vegetable hash, blackberry beet gastrique and bull’s blood garnish; finished off with a dessert of meringue brulee Napoleon with basil lemon mascarpone, cherry compote, cherry whipped cream and glass cherry.
Students working on the meal were Julianna Abel (junior, Chelmsford), Caden Adams (junior, Chelmsford), Trey Diekan (sophomore, Townsend), Quinlan Halloran (senior, Townsend) and Alex Buddington (senior, Shirley), whose knife skills while preparing the entree caught the eye of the pro chefs on hand and earned him the trophy of Best Knife Skills.
There was also a cake-decorating competition in which one student from each school had an hour to decorate a cake. Hannah Ossif (junior, Chelmsford) took part for Nashoba Tech.