Topsail students compete for culinary prize

Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 07:15 PM.

The four student chefs stood in front of their judges nervously.

They’d spent their mornings putting together a dish that would take them to the state-level culinary competition. It was nerve-racking and challenging, but it was also fun.

“It’s like ‘Chopped,’” said sophomore Andrew Burleson, breaking the ice with laughter as the boys waited to hear who’d won.

Andrew and fellow chefs Joey Antonucci, Matt Brown and Cody Qurollo were competing Jan. 24 for three spots on Topsail High School’s culinary team at the state Family, Career and Community Leaders of America competition. They were required to make a pork tenderloin and a side dish to serve to judges from four local restaurants. The students were judged on their dish’s taste. But they also had to have high marks in presentation, preparation skills and the cleanliness of their work stations.

And they had to do it all in an hour.

Topsail High culinary teacher Kelly Painter has been holding the competition for four years now, she said. She started it because “honestly, I don’t have the heart to cut somebody from the team,” she said.

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