College cooks compete in annual Mississippi DECA culinary competition

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Things were really heating up Wednesday in the kitchen of the Culinary Arts Institute, on the Mississippi University for Women campus, as 10 teams of college cooks faced off in the annual Mississippi DECA culinary competition.

“They are learning to prepare menu items as if they are opening their own restaurant they’re doing that, and they are creating the menu for the correct target market. They have to go shop and food has been ordered, and then they have an hour to go from fabricating a chicken to plate presentation, and then they have a 15 minute on the marketing plan, so it’s two different sets of judges within an hour and 15 minutes,” said coordinator Jerry Ainsworth.

For many students, it’s their first time stepping foot in a competitive kitchen.

And they are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“I’m just looking for some experience, you know. Hopefully it makes me better at our school kitchen. Maybe help my performance better. That’s what I’m looking for. It’ll be nice to win, but you know I’m just looking for something to benefit me besides winning,” said competitor Bryce Essix.

“Learning experience, meeting new people, getting my name out there, getting my friends name out there, everything,” said competitor Zion Turner.

Destiny Lenoir competed in the international DECA culinary competition last year.

She came back this year with something to prove.

“The very first competition I was not able to compete in it. I was actually able to come to the international by default, and with that one experience, it shows me that, wow, this is a great opportunity and I missed out on it the first time. So, this time I want to start over and start fresh and do it myself and actually be able to win first second or third place in order to make it to international to experience it once again,” said Lenoir.

The winners of today’s competition and the runners-up will go to Orlando to compete in the international competition in April.

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