High school students mix it up in the kitchen - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

High school students mix it up in the kitchen

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The stove fires are burning in the culinary lab at Oak Grove High School as student teams from across the state, including Oak Grove, Hattiesburg and Wayne County, try to chop, mix and measure their way to the top.

"I am making the garnish for our tacos," said Oak Grove team member Brinkley Davis.

Davis is helping her team battle it out on the kitchen floor, trying to help her fellow young chefs flatten the competition.  It's the first of its kind culinary competition in the state, designed to get future generations equipped in the kitchen.

"I think some things in the food world is a lost art," said Oak Grove Culinary Arts instructor Debbie Miller.

Under the direction Miller, the Oak Grove team had to create a recipe, customize it and then serve it up. For them, that recipe is for Jamaican Jerk tacos. Teams are required to use at least two Mississippi products and a Mississippi spice blend, all while following school nutritional guidelines.

"They've practiced well,"
 Miller said. "They know what they're doing."

The winning recipe will land on school cafeteria menus across the state for an entire year. But, there are more than just savory bragging rights up for grabs. The winning team from each region of Mississippi will compete for the state title. Each member of the winning team will get $16,000 in scholarship money from Sullivan University in Kentucky. From there, winning the national title in January will give each winning team member about $50,000 in scholarship money. 

"The scholarship opportunities are better than what I could have thought they would be," Davis said.

There are just over 50 culinary arts programs for students in Mississippi. Miller said they're a hands-on way for students to succeed.

"It's important for people to know what they're eating and how to cook it," Miller said.

For chefs like Brinkley, the class is even shaping career goals and life skills.

"I've learned patience," 
Davis said. "I've learned how to communicate. I've learned knife skills, how to work with other people. It's just been a really good learning experience, I think, for the real world." 

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