Metro-East Living

Give teens a bag of groceries and watch them cook

Six high school culinary teams competed least week in the first Platinum Chef Competition in Madison County.

It’s an event that has been held annually in Monroe County, drawing schools from all over the metro-east area.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Director Rob Werden of the Madison County Career and Technical Education System, and Leisa Brockman, program coordinator of the Culinary Arts and Food Management program at Southwestern Illinois College, six teams from Edwardsville, Collinsville, Bethalto, Troy/Marine/St. Jacob, Roxana and Alton competed. They gathered at SWIC’s Sam Wolf Granite City Campus on Wednesday to go head-to-head making a complete meal. They all used the same ingredients to prepare appetizer, salad/dressing, entree and side dish. (Dessert could be made ahead of time.)

Think of it as “Iron Chef” for high school culinary students, who had to work on their own with limited access to their instructors. It was a timed event with judging on sanitation, kitchen technique and tasting. They also took a written test. SWIC culinary staff also held workshops earlier in the school year to help prepare the teams, teaching kitchen techniques, knife skills and sanitation.

“For this being the first time we’ve held the competition here, they rose to the occasion in terms of creativity,” said Brockman, who hopes to make this an annual event, along with the one in Red Bud. “They took what we taught them in the workshops and put it work.”

Edwardsville High School took home the inaugural award for Best of Competition, as well as best appetizer. Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto placed second and also made the best dessert. Roxana High School was third. Triad High School made the best salad, while Collinsville created the best entree and had the best utility team who had the behind-the-scenes job of cleanup and washing dishes. Alton High School’s team made the best oral presentation of dishes, with Alex Treise as MVP.

Contact me at, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.