Culinary team tastes victory in Aggieland competition

Arissa Mejia

John C. Maxwell’s quote “Team work makes the dream work” was brought to life by the culinary team of juniors Scott Tolle, Cainen Palmer, Jaden Twitty, and Kailey Gates when they won first place at the Taste of Aggieland competition by working together and utilizing their cooking skills as they were challenged to make a unique meal in 45 minutes. 

The competition took place at the Brazos County Expo Center and was judged by one of the sponsors from the Ranch Harley Davidson, the Texas Restaurant Association, the CEO, and the president of the Greater Houston Area Tractor of the Texas Restaurant Association. 

“During the cooking competition, students were given two meats and had to come up with a dish,” culinary teacher Amanda Shortt said. “They made a Caribbean pork tenderloin with sweet potato puree, mojo sauce, and pineapple salsa.”

With the team only having a short amount of time to prepare for the competition, culinary teacher William Dees is proud of the students for pulling everything together and coming in first.

“It was more stressful because we had short notice of the events and about three weeks to prepare for it,”  Dees said. “However, the students completely took it out of the park and we couldn’t be more satisfied.”

Scott, whose role was to help prep the salsa and make the sauce, sees this as a rewarding and fun experience for not only himself but also the team and hopes to participate in the event again next year.

“Honestly, I enjoyed just making the plate, it was really fun and exciting,” Scott said. “We have a great team here, and I’m hoping I can stay on the team for senior year.”

Scott recalls the feeling of not being able to calm his nerves but is grateful overall for the experience. 

“The experience was exhilarating, and honestly, I was kind of anxious, but it was the good kind of anxious,” Scott said. “Once you get into the groove of making the plate it’s fine, but once you look at the other team and try to compare what you’re doing in comparison to them, that’s when it gets kind of stressful.”

Cainen, whose role was to prepare the pork, cut, clean, and season it, found it to be a way to learn, practice, and improve skills that are important to everyday life.

“I learned how to communicate with other people better and to cooperate with other people,” Cainen said. “Those skills are good to have, and this was a way I could utilize them.”

Scott had faith in his team and feels grateful to be able to share this experience with loved ones. 

“In the end it came down to our plating having to be very detailed, I had a lot of confidence as well as the rest of the team that we could pull off a detailed plate,” Scott said. “It felt good to share this experience with some of the people I care about.”

Shortt acknowledges the students’ hard work and dedication and sees this as a good learning experience and as a way for them to get recognized. 

“The experience was absolutely wonderful,” Shortt said. “We were so proud of the kids because they did a great job and got good experience and lots of exposure, just seeing the look on their face when they won is so rewarding.”