Troy and I sautéing onions
Immediately after my appearance on the Daily Buzz my parents and I hopped in the car and headed back home to Boca Raton. Why? Because there was a competition being held at West Boca High School. My school is a “hybrid", which means it’s a traditional High School but also has four academies (Culinary is one of them). Advising the school on how to run the academies is CAAB (Community Academy Advisory Board) which is made up of business leaders from throughout Palm Beach County. To help bring attention to the Academy Program the school organized its first ever “Top Chef” competition. Chef Hall (the head of the Culinary Academy) selected 10 culinary students who were then matched with a member of the ”CAAB” to be their apprentice. I was paired with Troy McLellan the President of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce which represents over 1,500 companies. This everyday executive might know all about business and politics but when it comes to cooking he knows “squat”. Troy sent me an email telling me that he would gladly be my partner for the competition but warned me he didn’t know much about cooking, but that was about to change, he was now paired with JeremyCooks.
He told me that the only thing he could make was a mean grilled cheese and needed my guidance on what we should make (he originally suggested we make some type of omelet). I took his words seriously and decided that if he knew grilled cheese, that's what we were going to make. I was off to work and began researching different grilled cheese recipes to get inspiration and created a JeremyCooks original. I called it the Troy, it featured, a layer of Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, a bed of spinach, and sautéed onions all on a fresh ciabatta roll and lets not forget the secret ingredient that tied it all together….Fig Jam. (Todd English will be so proud of me) Its looks are deceiving but it’s sweet and salty combination creates a taste that will knock your socks off! I had so much fun teaching Troy the basics of cooking, I even showed him how to deglaze the pan and after that he was hooked on the term “deglazing”.
Bringing the plated "Troys" to the judges.
Next came the judging, the panel consisted of TV Reporter Angela Sachitano, Marie Speed, Editor of Florida Table and Boca Raton Magazines (You know I blog for Florida Table, so she’s my boss); Two food writers including Bill Citara, (remember my interview with him?); Several Chefs and restaurant people, School Board Member Frank Barbieri, and Principal Mark Stenner.
The Judges Tasting
First Place went to culinary student Helcio Abrero and Tim Snow of the George Snow Scholarship Fund for their sweet corn ravioli.
First place winners Helcio Abrero and Tim Snow
Second Place went to…. Troy and I!!!! We won second place for something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich (but not your ordinary grilled cheese). Third place went to culinary student Carla Sabino (one of this year’s Pro Start team members) and her partner Joe Pores. Congratulations to the other two winning teams and also great job to all the other culinary students and CAAB members that competed!!!
Troy and I with our 2nd place certificates
This was such an amazing day and I believe all of the participants had a great time. Whats great is that I got to do what I love which is to learn and create new things as well as to inspire others. Troy McLellan was a great partner and I look forward to him cooking me a meal someday.
Keep On Cooking!