WALLA WALLA -- Forty minutes, three plates. Only one winner will be left holding his knives in a cook-off Friday at Walla Walla High School.
Three students in the school's culinary program will show off their cooking skills for the Food Network's Maneet Chauhan and two other chefs from the Chopped cooking show.
The students -- two sophomores and one junior -- are Ian Davidson, 17, Zachary Newby, 15, and Brandon Williams, 17.
They were chosen by Barbara Buttice, culinary teacher in the school's family consumer course program.
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"I narrowed it down to students who also have an outside job," Buttice said. "It's tough for students to work, go to school and participate in cooking competitions too. I wanted to give these students a chance to show what they can do."
The competition is part of the Cutting Edge Tour -- Seeking America's Top Teen Chef, a promotion for the National Restaurant Association's Pro-Start program. It teaches high school students hospitality and culinary arts, giving them skills they can use in life and encouraging a career in the hotel/restaurant industry.
The students created their own menus for the cook-off -- one features quail, another halibut and the third salmon. Each of them has been paired with a Walla Walla chef who's offering advice and coaching them in technique.
Davidson is working with Chris Teal of Public House 124, Newby with Jairo Regal from Whitehouse Crawford and Williams with Antonio Campolio from The Marc.
"The only directions my students were given for the competition was to create a contemporary meal with a protein, starch and vegetable," Buttice said. "And they couldn't spend more than $30 on the ingredients."
They'll each have 40 minutes to make their meal, arrange it on three plates and present it to the judges.
The Food Network's Chauhan and the other judges will spend 10 minutes per student critiquing the meals -- offering tips and advice -- before scoring it. The student with the highest score will receive a seven-piece knife set from the TV show.
The same cook-off format will be used at 16 other high schools around the country on Chauhan's tour. Whichever student among the 17 schools has the top score will spend a day cooking with chefs at the White House.
The winner will be announced at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on May 18.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org