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Junior Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge (JSSCC) Journey


The last Saturday of the Ekka, two Year 10 students, Brianna Woods and Michelle Gatuteo were coming to the end of a long journey that began back in February.

In February a number of Year 10 students participated in the Young Chef Program held over four days at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism (QCWT). This program is the foundation for the selection of students to enter the JSSCC. Under the guidance of Chef Ben Lanyon the students enhanced their skills and experienced life in a commercial kitchen. Brianna and Michelle were selected to enter the JSSCC Regional Finals in Toowoomba.

Then began the planning of the dish using the base ingredient, Chicken Maryland. The dish had to meet Culinary Federation Criteria including the inclusion of an indigenous product that s complimented the dish. The girls attended training one day a week working with Chef Ben at the QCWT to perfect their dish while at school they worked with program organiser and their mentor, Mrs Thorne, finalising the dish documentation.

A Master Class was held at the QCWT in July, where teams from all participating schools in the Darling Downs region cooked and presented their dish for evaluation and feedback from Culinary Federation Judges.  The judges deemed Brianna’s and Michelle’s dish restaurant quality. This feedback guided all teams to improve on their dishes before the big day, the Regional Finals in Toowoomba.

How many variations of Chicken Maryland can you have? This is the third year that Chicken Maryland has been the meat protein. A copy of the dish documentation ie the menu description, photo of dish, menu cards, costing sheets, flow charts, menu card was presented to the judges before the commencement of the competition. The teams from all schools once again amazed the judges with the menu and creativity of the dishes presented. Winning at the regional finals held in Toowoomba reinforced the perfection of Briana’s and Michelle’s dish and their great teamwork.

Finally the EKKA and the QLD State Finals, Brianna and Michelle competing against six regions from across the state. The day started at 7.30am with all ingredients and utensils being delivered to the EKKA. Then the long wait for their heat at 1pm. This gave the girls time to relax and observe the other teams in heat 1 and 2. Then it was time for heat 3, Brianna and Michelle on stage.

 As winners of the Regional Final, Brianna and Michelle were presented with their Culinary Federation Chef’s Jacket. Cooking on unfamiliar equipment in front of a large crowd of spectators Brianna and Michelle proved once again that they were a winning team with a spectacular dish.  During the final countdown, Brianna and Michelle were calm and professional and presented their dish on time. They were judged on all aspects of the preparation, presentation and flavour of the dish.

Another wait until the presentations at 4.30pm. Finally time for the winner to be announced; sponsor ad; tension mounting; is Stanthorpe the Winner? Finally the announcement!!!!

The end of the journey for now, Brianna and Michelle the Queensland Junior Secondary Culinary Challenge winners for 2014.