Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students, Chefs to Team Up for Steel Chef Competition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students, Chefs to Team Up for Steel Chef Competition

Article excerpt

Nine teens will join professional chefs for a stage show, the Steel Chef Cookoff, where they'll work in three teams to prepare entrees using mystery ingredients in a Food Network-style competition.

The show is set for 6 p.m. Monday at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks. It's the culmination of an eight-week culinary job-training program run by Focus on Renewal, a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality of life in the McKees Rocks area.

"This is the most rewarding thing I've done in a long time," said Tom DeGori, chef at Ohio Valley Hospital in Kennedy.

Mr. DeGori and five other chefs - Kevin Sousa of Superior Motors, Jess Rattani of Jambo Grill at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Claudy Pierre of Eminent Hospitality Solutions, Norr Nareedokmai of Silk Elephant and Keyla Cook of Keyla Cooks - taught individual sessions on basic cooking techniques such as knife skills and sauteing. Mr. Sousa wowed the students by letting them operate a blowtorch for creme brulee. Ms. Rattani invited the group to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, where the students took a tour, visited the baby tigers and learned about not only the "people food" served at the zoo but also about the food fed to the animals. Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants worked closely with Focus on Renewal to recruit chefs, as well as to invite Natalie DeiCas, owner of Everyday's a Sundae and Cafe, to teach a session on food safety.

These nine students will be divided into three teams of three students each. Each team also will have two chefs working alongside the students.

There was an intentional effort to involve "not just all white male chefs," said Lydia Morin, Focus on Renewal's director of engagement & enterprise. "We wanted a diverse group" in order to encourage the diverse student group.

The teens are Aidan Davison and Elliot Escalante, freshmen at Central Catholic High School; Ry'Anna Moore, a junior at Barack Obama Academy; Dwayne Gordon, a junior at Holy Family Academy; K'aijha Gomez, a sophomore at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School; Xavier Morris, a junior at West Mifflin Area High School; and Sto-Rox High School students Milieck Goldsborough, a senior; Nuriyah Corell, a junior, and Giovanni Salazar, a freshman. …

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