In the Kitchen with SkillsUSA

In the Kitchen with SkillsUSA

Editor’s Note: The Holiday 2014 edition of Lehigh Valley Marketplace featured an article detailing the then upcoming SkillsUSA Culinary Challenge. Following is a recap of the Challenge which took place on March 30th. Please visit our archives at to read more about the background of this event.

Five popular local chefs combined their talents with those of local vocational-technical students to form a culinary bond, culminating on March 30th at the 6th Annual SkillsUSA Culinary Challenge. Lehigh Valley Technical Institute again hosted the tasty event featuring five chef/student pairings creating five regional menus. This bond gave student chefs and servers the experience of learning from the best in their field while, at the same time, interacting with their peers in a busy work environment.

Chef Gregory Caracappa of Sodexo Corporate Services and his students from Upper Bucks County Technical School, Colin Bloome and Liam Phillips prepared Texas-inspired Chipotle-Lime Shrimp Tostada Sliders with guacamole, pico de gallo and lime crema served atop corn tortilla chips. The bite size sliders were spicy and flavorful and the varying textures made them fun finger food that everyone seemed to enjoy.

Colin Bloome is a fourth year culinary student at Upper Bucks and attends Pennridge High School. He hopes to continue his culinary training after high school and has already obtained his Servsafe Certification.

Liam Phillips is a home-schooled junior and third year culinary student. He has been cooking along side his mother since a young age and is currently working towards his Servsafe Certification. Liam hopes to attend college to earn a culinary/business degree and open his own restaurant one day.

New England style Cod Loin with Chorizo and Corn Sauce were served up by Chef Randy Zerfass of Lehigh Country Club and his Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School students Airick Crouthamel and Corey Ortiz. The fresh cod was lightly breaded and presented with a lovely meld of Chorizo, sautéed spinach and sweet corn sauce.

Airick Crouthamel (Freedom HIgh School) has been actively involved in culinary events at school and plans to attend Northampton Community College to study culinary arts with hopes of becoming an Executive Chef.

Corey Ortiz’s interests lie in Asian-inspired cuisine, having spent time in China where he blogged about his cultural experiences. A Liberty HIgh School student, he has been active in the BAVTS events and upon graduation, plans to enter the Armed Forces and pursue his culinary dreams.

Career Institute of Technology students Chyanne Rowe and Emma Wortman presented a rich and spicy Creole/Cajun Shrimp and Crawfish Etoufee under the guidance of Chef Tyler Baxter of The Bayou. This delicious combination of fresh shellfish with vegetables steeped in a flavorful, piquant broth served with rice was wonderful.

Chyanne Rowe is in her third year of culinary studies and an Honor Roll student at Easton High School. She plans to attend the Culinary Institute of Technology in Hyde Park, New York. She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has activity participated in SkillsUSA for past two years. Chyanne hopes to eventually own and operate a catering business.

Bangor HIgh School Junior Emma Wortman is in her second year of the Culinary Arts program at CIT. She is an Honor Roll student at both schools, President of the CIT National Technical Honor Society and CIT student ambassador. She is currently employed at PA Bagel and Deli in Portland, Pa and plans to attend Culinary Institute of America.

Savory Grille’s Chef Shawn Doyle teamed up with Anthony Sorrentino and Jasmine Kutzura from Lehigh Career and Technical Institute to create a Midwestern Pork Duo consisting of glazed pork belly and bacon-wrapped pork loin served with a deliciously sweet and sour cherry agrodolce, corn custard and a vegetable and potato hash. This interesting dish was delicious and the cherry sauce was fabulous with the pork.

Anthony Sorrentino is a senior at Parkland High School and a four-time state place winner at Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in Culinary Arts (FCCLA). He is currently a chef apprentice at Saucon Valley Country Club and past experience includes sous chef at Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom. He will attend Culinary Institute of America in the fall and with a goal of becoming a Certified Master Chef.

Jasmine Kutzura, a senior at Whitehall High School, is the 2015 District 11 Champion in Restaurant Service and will be going to the state competition in April. She has served as Culinarian for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs studying multi-unit food service operations and will be attending Johnson & Wales University where she will focus on culinary arts and food service management with a concentration in Food Service Entrepreneurship.

Chef Daniel Goulet of Lourds Valley Country Club, along with his Monroe Career and Technical Institute students Ross Manigo and Melissa Corrao, created a Taste of Southern Picnic – fried chicken two ways. A chicken leg lollipop was accompanied by a chicken croquette with sides of mac-n-cheese, braised greens, tasso ham and a cucumber slaw. This fun combination offered up an array of tastes and textures.

Ross Manigo is a junior at Pocono Mountain High School and is a third year culinary student at the top of his class. He acts as manager of his student run cafe, has interned with Executive Chef John at Shoprite in Brodheadsville and currently works as a cook at Camelback Resort. Ross hopes to pursue his dream of becoming a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America.

Melissa Corrao is a senior at Pleasant Valley HIgh School. She works as a chef at her mom’s business, New York Pizza Girl. She is instrumental in the operation of MCTI’s student-run restaurant, Le Bistro and Bakery with seating for 60 and assisted in teaching Culinary Boot Camp to 9th graders. She will attend Northampton Community College in the fall and hopes to pursue a career in nutrition or food science.

Approximately 150 people attended the SkillsUSA Culinary Challenge and while attendees’ votes decided the order of finish, truly there were only winners this night. All dishes were creative and delicious. More importantly, students were afforded the learning experience of working with popular local chefs and each other in an atmosphere of camaraderie and creativity enhancing practical skills in a workplace environment.

Please contact Thea Phalon, Executive Director, SkillsUSA Council at: for more information on the annual SkillsUSA Culinary Challenge.

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