Loryn Usher (left) and Travis Tower create cilantro shrimp quesidillas for a cooking competition at Eagle Tech Academy Friday. The dishes were inspired by various Spanish and Latin American countries. Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley
COLUMBIA CITY â€” War was waged at Eagle Tech Academy Friday â€” a cooking war, that is.
Sophomore Spanish students at ETA participated in a cooking competition that not only brought out creative dishes, but creative learning as well.
Seventeen teams fought for the honor of â€śTop Chef.â€ť Several of the classrooms were converted into mini, make-shift eateries, as students prepared and served dishes from Spanish-speaking countries.
â€śI like to cook. This gave me a chance to try different recipes and do something different,â€ť said Dylan Dalton regarding his teamâ€™s Spanish-inspired dish. â€śWe could learn how to speak Spanish in the classroom, but we wouldnâ€™t have the chance to actually taste it if it wasnâ€™t for projects like this.â€ť
Each team decided on a country to represent, created a menu with foods typically found in their chosen country and worked together to cook the dishes.
â€śI learned everything about our country while making this meal,â€ť said Gunner Bills.
He and his teammates made a bacon-wrapped chicken entree that required some ethnic ingredients not easily found at the grocery store.
â€śIt just so happened that we needed tamarind, which is like a seed pod. The pulp was needed for the sauce in our dish, â€ś said Alex Walters. â€śI asked one of the people at the grocery store if they had it. They had just ordered some that they were keeping in the back.â€ť
In addition to cooking the dishes, teams had to purchase the ingredients and shop for the items needed.
â€śGoing shopping was the best part,â€ť said Riley Coons. â€śWe learned how to buy what we needed on a budget and substitute ingredients that we couldnâ€™t find or that were too expensive.â€ť
A panel of judges was formed to taste each dish and critique the teams on areas such as presentation, customer service, food quality and cultural knowledge.
â€śI was always afraid of presenting and talking to people I didnâ€™t know,â€ť said Taylor Gorski. â€śDoing projects like this makes me more confident and gives me the courage to speak in front of groups.â€ť
Nancy Beyhan, a Spanish teacher at ETA, was instrumental in arranging the cooking competition.
â€śThis gives the students a chance to do something fun while learning about all these different countries,â€ť Beyhan said. â€śPlus, the kids get so excited for these kinds of projects. I think it really lets them have pride in their work.â€ť
Derek Hufferd was a part of a team that decided on a sports-themed restaurant, The Fifth Meal. He said the group collaboration gave them a chance to work within their own individual strengths.
â€śThese projects teach us teamwork. We have to agree on different things and accomplish a big task without a whole lot of disagreements,â€ť Hufferd said. â€śIn the end, we came up with a really unique idea and we were able to make it our own while learning about another country.â€ť