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Culinary Competition

Regina Nguyen, a competitor from Renton High School in Washington, works before an audience during the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute's invitational cooking competition Saturday at Southwestern Oregon Community College.

COOS BAY — The Oregon Coast Culinary Institute hosted its annual invitational Saturday where over 60 high school students from around the Pacific Northwest competed for an opportunity to win scholarship funds to attend OCCI.

The young, aspiring chefs were given the option to participate in one or both categories of the competition, which included a culinary round and a baking round.

A dish ready for judging Saturday during the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute's invitational cooking competition at Southwestern Oregon Communi…

Given approximately an hour, students prepared their interpretation of either a chicken pot pie or lemon meringue pie from scratch to submit for judging.

“We’ve seen so many different versions of these dishes all day,” said OCCI Executive Director Randy Torres. “From very classical to very modern and contemporary, each student put their own spin on it.”

Dishes were judged based on technique, presentation and taste, as well as a number of other factors by a panel of OCCI facility and staff.

A group of student judges were also present, which included members of the OCCI American Culinary Federation Junior Team, to observe and record students' kitchen skills.

For about 14 years, OCCI has hosted a scholarship contest for students interested in attending its culinary program. Over time, the format has shifted from team to individual competitions and has featured hundreds of students from as far as Idaho and Montana.

Each student that participated Saturday received a $250 scholarship toward their tuition at OCCI. The annual competition also featured a dinner, continental breakfast and an awards banquet luncheon.

Floor judges watch the competition during the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute's invitational cooking competition Saturday at Southwestern Oreg…

“My favorite part is seeing the growth and journey of the students who do this competition,” said Torres. “The energy they have whether its excitement or nerves is infectious and I just enjoy the whole process.”

2019 Oregon Coast Invitational Winners:

  • Max Myrick, of McKinleyville High School, won a $4,000 scholarship and first place in Saturday’s culinary round.
  • Gabriella Watts, of Lake Stevens High School, won a $3,000 scholarship and second place in Saturday’s culinary round.
  • Martin Sanchez-Hehua, of North Eugene High School, won a $2,000 scholarship and third place in Saturday’s culinary round.
  • Bailey Goble, of South Medford High School, won a $4,000 scholarship and first place in Saturday’s baking round.
  • Cloie Heinan, of Etna High School, won a $3,000 scholarship and second place in Saturday’s baking round.
  • Leeann Lu, of Renton High School, won a $2,000 scholarship and third place in Saturday’s baking round.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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