This originally ran on CBS 3 Philadelphia on February 23, 2019.
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – Young chefs were sizzling Saturday at a South Jersey cooking competition, and with a college scholarship on the line, these students really showed off their skills.
The New Jersey ProStart competition at Campbell’s Headquarters in Camden is where teams of high school students are shaking, whisking and glazing their way to a spot at nationals.
“I feel like if you’re happy inside and you show that through your dish, it’s something strong no one can compete with,” said competitor Ariel Geiani-Colchado.
Judges look at organization, communication, menu development and a plate full of other factors when picking a winner.
“I’m looking at these menus and going these are 16 and 17-year-olds putting out these dishes?” said executive chef Gerald Drummond. “The excitement level I feel in here is extremely high.”
Other than the food, the most appetizing part of their competition is the scholarship money. Almost $1 million for every member of teams that finish first, second, or third.
“The whole dream is to go to college and not have to graduate with debt, I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do,” said competitor Aden Lewin from Passaic County Technical Institute. “Going to this high school and being on this team and getting that scholarship money is just another way I know that my dream is going to come true.”
Last year’s state rep from Passaic County Tech placed fourth, the highest in Garden State history.