Annual Oregon Coast Culinary Institute Competition: recap


Laura Aguilar-Flores, Staff Writer

On Saturday April 13th, culinary students from the Pacific Northwest gathered in Oregon to partake in an annual culinary competition hosted by the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI).

Students had the option to participate in a culinary competition where they created their own version of a chicken pot pie, a baking competition where they had to create a Lemon Meringue pie, or both.  Each student created their dishes from scratch, based on their own interpretations and competitors were given approximately an hour to complete their respective dishes.

They had a panel of student judges, in addition to traditional adult judges, to observe the students’ skills and process and dishes were critiqued on their presentation, the student’s technique, and taste.

Over sixty high school students competed for the chance to win a scholarship of up to 4,000 dollars to attend OCCI; there were six winners in total. Amongst these winners was Renton High School’s (RHS) Leeann Lu, a second time finalist from the school, who won third place in the baking round.

RHS’s culinary club has been attending this cooking competition for a few years now, but the competition occurs around RHS’s spring break, so students must give up their breaks in order to attend the competition; they also volunteer for a mandatory 90 hours in the culinary classroom in order to be an eligible participant of the trip. Despite this, students enjoy the experience, and some describe the event as a chance to bond with their peers and to develop their culinary skills.

“The trip to Oregon was a great chance for the club to bond and become closer and to understand our cooking styles and each other much more than we would have if not for the trip,” commented Antonio Delgado, a member of the club.

Competitors are prepared by Lauren Hasson, the school’s culinary teacher, who aids them in developing their own creation.

“I start by making them the original dishes so that they can see where I am going. Then I make my own take on the dishes. They then do research and choose a few recipes and decide what they like best. From there they practice this one recipe repeatedly working on timing and plating,” Hasson explained.

Hasson shared her pride and excitement in Leeann’s success, describing it as emotional and fulfilling.

“At first you get a cotton mouth feeling where the back of your throat gets sour and you want to cry. Then [there is] excitement because she has work so hard and it payed off in a good way. Then lastly [there is] a sign of relief because you are just so proud of all the work the team has done to support one another,” she explained.