News & Events

Students Cook the Pros


October 26, 2010

(HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA) – Students of the Drake State culinary arts cooked the pros by preparing an award winning Orzo Salad garnering first place in the Side Dish category at the 2010 Taste of Huntsville. The event was sponsored by the Huntsville-Madison County Hospitality Association with proceeds benefiting HEALS and CASA. The 36th installment of the event featured over 40 restaurants from the Huntsville area.

“All the students in the program participated in the preparations for The Taste of Huntsville,” says Prema Monteiro, culinary arts instructor at Drake State. “Such events allow our students to put into practice the principles they learn in the classroom. We are honored to have our program recognized in the company of some of the area’s finest restaurants.”

International Cuisine and Foundations of Baking participated in preparing and serving the food at the event. The menu items were planned several weeks in advance, with work beginning about a week before the event shopping for the ingredients. The students worked very hard on Wednesday and Thursday to complete the menu.

“It was important to make sure our menu was manageable both in our kitchen and once we arrived at the event. I wanted to prepare the students for the amount of work involved for their class, but I also wanted them to have a good experience,” adds Monteiro.

The team chose to prepare an orzo salad, eggplant dip, spinach and artichoke dip and three desserts; red velvet cake, butter cookies and chocolate oat bars.

The award winning orzo salad was selected by the judges using a scoring system of 60% - taste, 30%- presentation and 10%-table display. The orzo and garbanzo beans, were tossed with craisins, cherry tomatoes, red onions, yellow bell peppers and cucumbers creating a colorful feast for the eyes. The secret dressing created in the kitchen at the college, provided the tangy compliment for the taste buds in this award winning creation.

“We found a couple of different recipes, but we weren’t thrilled with either of them. We worked together to combine ingredients based on culinary principles of color, taste and texture to make our own creation,” says Monteiro.

The results were rewarded by the judges.

The culinary arts program is included within the culinary arts/hospitality services management program at Drake State which trains graduates for the hospitality industry. The program allows students to choose from an associate degree or shorter certificate program for specialization in either culinary arts or hospitality services management. Depending on their specialization, students in the program have the opportunity to study a wide range of specialty food preparation techniques, prepare different cuisines, as well as the business functions required for operating a catering service, restaurant or hotel.

For more information about the culinary arts/hospitality services management program at Drake State, contact Prema Monteiro at 256.551.5204 or

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