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Cookoff turns up the heat

It was chili Friday as culinary arts teams from area high schools put some spice into a contest.

March 03, 2007|By Anthony Kim

Crescenta Valley High School out-cooked eight other high schools Friday in a chili-making showdown at Glendale Community College, serving up what event organizers hope will be a yearly culinary competition.

Russel Gruener, 18, a bistro class student at Crescenta Valley High, speculated on what set his team's recipe apart.

"I think it's because we have barbecue sauce," he said. "We also have sirloin beef in ours instead of like some kind of pot roast or ground beef."

The Crescenta Valley team's presentation — with white table cloths and a snowy antarctic theme — and its chili stood out enough to win the Grand Prize.

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"We went with the cartoon character Chilly Willie because, you know, it's different," Gruener said of the theme. "It's 'chili,' but we went with the colder aspect of the name."

The team also walked off with the Golden Ladle, a token it will hold until the ladle is passed on to next year's winner.

Culinary arts programs from the nine participating high schools in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Arcadia and La Cañada Flintridge drew a heavy crowd at the community college's Los Robles culinary arts department's patio. Hungry onlookers were all eager to grab a spoonful of the different recipes.

And Wilson Middle School's advanced cooking class was there to see what their seniors had under the lid.

"I liked the white chicken chili," 13-year-old Wilson student Mineli Gholian said of John Burroughs High's. "I thought it tasted really good. Also, I didn't like Hoover's."

The food critiques were as varied as the recipes that were presented.

"I would say Daily [High School] was really good," 9-year-old Jimmy Ludzhev said. "And not because I'm a student there. It was actually good. But other than that, I liked Burbank's and Hoover's."

Gary Berberian, 18, a student in Daily High School's bistro class, shared the team's secret ingredient.

"Well, we put love into it," he said. "It's soul food."

Porto's Bakery owner Raul Porto, who was an official judge, said he did not know which chili he liked best because the judges scored them in a blind taste test.

"They all did a wonderful job," he said. "It's kind of nice to see food take center stage."

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