Last autumn’s “Kendall Cooks Challenge” on Facebook—which invited high-school students across the United States to develop their culinary skills through a series of online, interactive recipe competitions—spurred a similar contest in Colombia through the Laureate International Universities network.
For two months this spring, students throughout Colombia were challenged to submit recipes on the El Reto Kendall Cook Facebook page. Mystery ingredients were revealed via video by Chris Koetke, CEC, CCE, HAAC, vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts and Laureate International Universities Center of Excellence in Culinary Arts. Students also sent photos of their finished dishes and brief explanations of their dish selections. Koetke provided educational tips via posted videos, which students found useful in working with the ingredients and developing their recipes.
Ultimately, 25 secondary and postsecondary students from the Colombia’s key culinary academies, schools and universities were selected as finalists in two categories (high school up to age 18 and college up to age 25) to compete live in May before an august jury consisting of Koetke; Simon Bühler, star of hit Colombian TV shows such as “Challenge the Chef” and “Chef on the Edge”; and Clemencia Price, a researcher and member of the Colombian Academy of Gastronomy.
“You never know what to expect in a competition, but I’m so happy to see these young people cooking with passion,” said Koetke. “It takes passion, discipline and intensity to be a good cook. Participants have cooked with heart.”
The contest was sponsored by Haceb, one of Colombia’s most respected brands for household appliances, which provided a live competition venue and financial support of a national press conference, and La Barra, the leading trade magazine targeting Colombia’s hospitality industry.
In the high-school category, the winner was Maria Clara Mejia Estrada of The Columbus School, Medellín, with her chicken roll stuffed with olive pâté plated with risotto, spinach and toasted Italian cheese.
The college category was won by Manuel Alejandro Lucas Cortez of the External University of Colombia, Bogotá, with spinach pesto on pumpkin purée and roasted cherry tomatoes.
The two winners were awarded scholarships to attend Summer Camp at Kendall College in Chicago.