WAXAHACHIE — "Romaine" calm and "lettuce" celebrate the many victories of the Waxahachie High School students who represented the school and district at the Region 3 life-skills competition.

The students are involved in the Career and Technical Student Organization, Family Career and Community Leaders of America [FCCLA] and recently returned from a contest in Waco Feb. 2-4 where a total of $13,800 in scholarships were collected from the 21 students who participated in a variety of the competitions.

According to the CTE Press Release, “FCCLA serves students enrolled in CTE courses aligned with the Hospitality & Tourism career cluster and the Human Services career cluster. Participants enjoy the experience of applying classroom and laboratory lessons in hands-on activities or competitive events.”

WHS Culinary Arts Director and Chef Joel Skipper shared that, of the 21 students, 15 qualified for the state competition — the most the school has ever had.

As told by the FCCLA guidelines for regional and state competitions the "Cupcake Battle" is, “[...] an individual event, promoting Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Individuals must bake, decorate and display 6 cupcakes. Cupcakes will be evaluated on overall appearance, cake flavor, texture, doneness, frosting consistency, flavor, originality, and mise en place. Individuals are required to bake, decorate, and display 6 cupcakes, prepare a file folder, and respond to evaluator questions.”

CTE teacher Kelli Desmond shared that student Marilyn Abigt's cupcakes and setup were "great" and that she, along with Chef Skipper were proud, regardless if Abigt is state bound or not.

“I made the cupcakes here, created a setup and took them the day of the competition. I decided on chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing” Abigt said.

Four students participated on two teams in the Life Planning event in two teams, which included Macie Pelt and Perry Menen who qualified for the state contest.

“For the Life Event planning, the students pick an event in the future and plan for it financially. The team that is advancing planned their senior prom. They researched the cost of the dress, hair, nail, accessories, transportation, dinner and put together a budget for the items. They put together the total cost and then presented how they were going to save money,” Desmond said.

Senior Anthony ‘A.J.’ Gospodarek qualified for state in the "Mystery Basket" competition. The contest allows a participant 40 minutes to create a meal with three surprise ingredients.

“You get a basket with the ingredients you’re supposed to cook in it. I got a sirloin steak with a carrot and an avocado. It’s basically like the T.V. show Chopped. If you know what you’re doing it’s not that bad. The avocado kind of threw me off, but it worked out,” Gospodarek explained.

Chef Skipper noted that the basket sometimes does not include all of the required ingredients to earn the maximum amount of points possible.

“On your plate, you have to have a protein, starch, and a vegetable. You may not have all of it in the basket, but there is a common pantry for the students to utilize,” Skipper said.

Nine students participated in the one-hour culinary competition and will all advance to state. The competition requires the students to create a four-course meal and is judged on multiple factors.

“For this competition, we were accustomed to having three menu options to practice, but for simple economic reasons, it was trimmed down to one. We would practice the menus, and they would choose at the competition which one the teams would be preparing. The teams are judged on presentation, sanitation, organization, teamwork, appearance and how professional they are,” Skipper explained.

Junior and first-time culinary competitor Megan Splawn shared that they were required to prepare sautéed chicken, mushrooms, asparagus, a potato with gravy, a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing and pudding for dessert.

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Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL

(469) 517-1454