The scene in Thomas McKean High School's new state-of-the-art kitchen was more like a scene out of the show "Chopped" than a scene from a high school cooking class.
That was because on Tuesday, Sept. 18, the school unveiled its new kitchen, with a "Battle of the Delaware Celebrity Chefs" competition, while also enlisting 30 culinary students to act as sous chefs.
McKean recruited local celebrity chefs Dana Herbert, winner of "Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker," Chef Jennifer Behm, season two winner of "Master Chef," and Chef Julio Lazzarini, owner and Chef of Orillas Tapas Bar in Wilmington who has also appeared on "Chopped."
The chefs helped the culinary students prepare an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert that would be judged by secret ballot.
Herbert, a Hockessin native, said that although he is known as a pastry chef, he was not stressing the other courses.
"My style is to combine sweet and savory. They are all good flavors that are unexpected," Herbert said.
When asked about his cool and calm nature in the kitchen, he offered this advice: "I learned early on to never exert myself or I won't have enough for the finish."
ABOUT THE NEW KITCHEN
The new state-of-the-art kitchen for the Thomas McKean High School culinary program was completed this summer and cost $895,000. It was paid for with federal vocational education grants and local funds.
Kassandra Sanchez, and Erika Garcia, both juniors at McKean, said they joined the culinary program as freshman because they wanted to learn how to cook.
"My skills have improved," said Garcia who loved to make cream puffs.
After an hour and a half of chaos in the kitchen, the dishes were served and judged.
The crowd loved Lazzarini's entrée, which consisted of roasted pork with an adobe rub served with fingerling potatoes, roasted corn and pickled cauliflower and a curry coconut sauce.
Sweets-expert Herbert took the cake in the dessert round, with his French toast with sautéed apples, bacon ice cream and a laced almond cookie.