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Culinary Students Compete in Mystery Basket Competition

Eight of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Culinary Arts students recently tested their skills in a “Mystery Basket competition.” The competition determined which students will represent the program at the upcoming Wake Tech Culinary Arts Showcase in Raleigh, N.C.

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Students were given a mystery basket of ingredients that included a whole chicken, a salmon filet, Napa cabbage and a mango to be used in a dish that would be judged by Culinary Arts instructors. In the timed competition, modeled after the Food Network show, “Chopped,” students were given 10 minutes to plan a menu, 5 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to prepare a dish that included the mystery ingredients. Students were judged on creativity, taste and presentation by Culinary Arts Program Director Chef Keith Andreasen and Instructors Chef Ray Kirby and Chef Corey Hooks.

The winners of the competition were second-year students Katlyn Kirby with a mango chicken salad and Michael Gilbert with seared salmon with mango salsa and crispy-skinned chicken breast with napa cabbage. Kirby and Gilbert, along with alternate Allen Hemphill, will represent CCC&TI’s Culinary Arts Program at a similar competition to be held at Wake Tech’s Culinary Arts Showcase March 31 to April 1. The popular two-day event draws thousands to the Raleigh Convention Center each year. The competitions held at the show are among the largest in the United States sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Andreasen says he is proud of all of the students who participated in the competition. “All students showed a degree of originality and creativity. You could see the focus and professional concern for quality of work on each student’s face,” he said. “This is our first food show competition here at CCC&TI. We will be sending a very strong team to the food show and we hope to take home the gold.”

For more information on CCC&TI’s Culinary Arts Program, call 828-726-2478 or visit