Every spring since 2015 the 10th grade Grasso Tech Culinary Arts students compete in a Chopp-ED competition modeled after the popular TV show. It is a comprehensive challenge that serves as an excellent “graduation” activity. At Grasso Tech the ascension from underclassman statues to upperclassman is celebrated because the students transition for the last 2 years of their high school education to the more public facing “restaurant” side of the kitchen where the stakes are higher and the responsibility greater. It is a great way to reward them for all of the hard work they have put in!
Though certain elements of the competition change slightly from year to year, the overall structure remains relatively constant. The competitors are judged “blindly” by a knowledgeable panel, no one knows who created what dish. Below is the structure of this year’s competition.
Round 1: Knife Skills
All students have 10 minutes to produce at least 1/2 C of carrots cut into a small dice. Consistency, accuracy, and utilization all factor into the decision. The top 8 plates move on to the next round.
Round 2 – Quarterfinals: Chicken
Students were given a piece of chicken, a mystery vegetable, and are directed to include a cooked grain in their dish. Most anything else that is in the kitchen is available to use. Students determine the method they want to utilize when cooking the chicken (roasting, grilling, sautéing, frying, etc.) and the grain (rice, polenta, barley, etc.) in addition to developing their seasoning profile. Taste in this round is of primary importance! 2 hour time limit. Top 4 students move on to the next round.
Round 3 – Semifinals: Soup
Students are challenged to create a soup of their choice using any ingredients found in the kitchen. 1 hour prep time the day before and 3 hours on the competition day. Top 2 soups move to the finals.
Round 4 – Finals: Plated Dessert
For the finals, the last two students are allowed to choose a student sous chef (one of their classmates) to work with. They must come up with a plated dessert, something that you might order in a restaurant. They are given 3 hours. The best overall dessert is declared the winner! Congratulations to Caleb Pollard, Grasso Tech Culinary Arts Class of 2023, the winner of this year’s Chopp-ED Competition!