Culinary students vie for a trip to the ball
By B.C. Manion
The culinary artists were aflutter in the kitchen, putting on the last-minute flourishes on creative confections they hoped would woo judges’ votes.
Twelve teams were vying for the top three honors in the second annual Cinderella’s Favorite Dessert competition, held Thursday night at the Academy of Culinary Arts at Land O’ Lakes High.
“As you can see back there, this is like opening night for a play,’’ said Pasco County School Board Chairwoman Joanne Hurley, nodding toward the kitchen as the teams plated their desserts.
“Everything is going on and they’re all doing their last-minute preparations. Excitement is in the air,” Hurley said.
Teams from Marchman Technical Education Center and Land O’ Lakes, Fivay, Hudson, Wiregrass Ranch and Anclote high schools put their culinary skills to the test in a quest to have their dessert chosen to be served at the upcoming Cinderella Ball.
That black-tie gala is an evening of elegance put on by the Pasco Education Foundation to raise money for scholarships, classroom grants and recognition programs. This year, the ball will be held on March 3 at Heritage Springs Country Club.
Beyond creating a tasty dessert, each team obviously put thought into how their creation would fit nicely into the theme of Cinderella’s ball.
While washing dishes at a stainless steel sink before making her case to the judges, Land O’ Lakes High senior Gordon ran through the lines she would speak.
Whenever she stumbled, she started again. She was determined to get it right.
She was confident that she and her partner, Lindsey Monson, had dreamed up a delectable dessert for the contest.
The pair named their entry “Cinderella’s Spectacular Sampler.”
And, it did look delicious.
The sampler included a pumpkin cheesecake, to represent the carriage; a Black Forest cake pop to represent Germany, home of the castle Walt Disney used as a model for Cinderella’s castle; and dressed up a strawberry in a tuxedo, to represent the prince.
While others rushed about, Wiregrass Ranch High student Kaileigh Skinner seemed to have everything under control.
While others were rushing to finish, she had completed plating her petit fours, which she called “Sweet Surprises.”
Each plate had four petit fours made of cake and fillings, covered with chocolate. She used raspberry, mango and kiwi lime fruit fillings and one filling made of caramel.
Skinner did not seem to be sweating it, even though her partner, Sylvia Pardo, could not attend the event.
“I’m actually the only one ready now,” Skinner said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
As teams presented their entries, the energy and thought they’d put into their work was obvious.
First place went to Brooke Dobbyn and Burgandy Mills, a team from Anclote High, for a dessert they called Prince’s Golden Mocha Layer Cake.
The Land O’ Lakes High team of Ashlee Hubert and Ariana Powell-Lindo took second place, while third place went to Danielle Sneve, Cody Hindman and Sara Schiff, with an alternate, Bailey Bryant.
The second-place dessert from Land O’ Lakes High is called “Lady Tremaine’s German chocolate cake.” It consists of German chocolate cake, a coconut pecan filling and a border made of ladyfingers.
Hubert, a junior, presented the dessert to the judges. Her teammate, Ariana Powell-Lindo, was unable to attend the event.
“What was your idea of having the ladyfinger border?” judge Aaron R. Fodiman asked.
Hubert: “We decided that would give it an elegant look,” Hubert said.
“And that it does,” Fodiman said.
Hubert was delighted by her team’s success.
“I’m very surprised,” she said. “I’m happy. I’m just like a bundle of joy.”
She wasn’t the only one who was feeling good at Thursday’s event.
The man who oversees the school district’s culinary arts programs had a broad smile on his face, when the students finished their pitches.
“I’m standing back here as proud as I can be,” said Rob Aguis, the director of community, career and technical education for Pasco County Schools. “They all did a wonderful job.”
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