Valerie Baylie announced the menu specials at the kitchens in Room 235 of Standley Lake High School: Top-loin steak with red-wine sauce; sweet Hawaiian mini-burgers; beef, pepper and mushroom kabobs; and Szechuan beef stir-fry.
Four teams of students, decked out in white chef coats embroidered with their names, snapped to their preparation — under the gun of the clock and teacher Baylie's exacting critique. Today's winner, based on both preparation and presentation rubrics, would earn 50 bonus points in her grade book.
"Competition," Baylie said, "is a huge piece of the program."
And the program at Standley Lake, mirroring others across the state powered by industry partners, enjoys wide popularity as culinary classes ride a wave of pop culture cachet and economic opportunity.
"This is a viable career path," said 16-year-old junior Amber Harrison, whose team prepared the killer kabobs. "More and more people are recognizing it as an option."