Culinary student wins silver medal in competition

April 07, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Television inspired Jeffrey Reece to believe cooking is an art.

His artful presentation of shrimp cocktail, sauted chicken and rice pilaf won Reece, a Washington County Technical High School senior, a silver medal in the regional contest of the Art Institutes-sponsored Best Teen Chef in America Culinary Scholarship Competition.

After his family got the Food Network about 2 1/2 years ago, Reece, 18, discovered Iron Chef Chen Kenichi, who fueled his love to cook spicy food and prompted the Smithsburg resident to join the culinary arts program at the Technical High School.

"I like cooking, I like to eat and I just think it's fun," he said.

At the regional contest held March 29 at The Art Institute of Washington, Reece competed against four other students who all cooked a set menu in less than an hour and 30 minutes and completed a series of knife skills in less than 30 minutes.


Reece was the only competitor to finish his knife skills on time.

However, he said, he was disappointed that his shrimp and rice were not cooked completely, which kept him from getting first place.

"I should have gotten a tighter lid for my rice and I should have let the shrimp cook a little more," Reece said.

But what won Reece the silver medal was his design of a lemon basket for his cocktail sauce and a tomato rose for his chicken.

Reece said he is proud of his accomplishment. He will serve as the alternate to the first place winner for the Best Teen Chef in America competition that is slated for May in New York.

Reece hopes to attend the Art Institute of Washington after high school for culinary studies. The national contest gives more than $190,000 in scholarships to finalists and the opportunity to study at one of the 18 Art Institutes in the country.

To enter the regional contest, Reece sent in a paragraph about why he wanted to be a chef and a menu that he created himself.

He sent a menu and pictures of tomato and goat cheese on bruschetta and a sun-dried tomato bruschette with rack of lamb.

Reece hopes to open a restaurant when he graduates from college, but doesn't know yet which cuisine will dominate its menu.

At home, he sometimes prepares baked chicken or something spicy, he said.

But between working in the Technical High School kitchen, which serves meals to about 400 students everyday, and his evening job at Texas Roadhouse, where he does everything from preparing salads to fish, Reece has little time to do much cooking of his own.

"I like rushing around, getting everything done and making sure it looks good," he said.

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