6/13/2013 9:03:00 PM Perkins Student Wins Top Prize in Food Network Challenge
Kylie Payne, a senior at Perkins-Tryon High School and Culinary Arts student at Meridian Technology Center, recently competed in a ProStart culinary competition in Oklahoma City. Payne had to plan and create a meal for Maneet Chauhan, left, celebrity chef and judge of Food Network’s show “Chopped.”
Reality television recently became more real for Kylie Payne.
The first-year Culinary Arts student won a ProStart cooking competition that was modeled after the popular Food Network show "Chopped." The contest, part of a nation-wide Food Network promotional book tour featuring celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan and co-author Doug Singer, put culinary students like Payne to a timed test to prepare a three-course meal of traditional American fare for Food Network judges in Oklahoma City.
"Aside from the fact that we had two days to plan our meal instead of getting our ingredients on-site, everything was exactly like what you see on the Food Network cooking shows," Payne said, still a little overwhelmed by the experience and her win.
"TV cameras were everywhere, watching every move you made and the competition was intense. I am addicted to watching "Chopped," but that didn't even come close to preparing me for what it would really be like to actually participate in a contest like this," she added.
In a tight 40-minute time frame, Payne prepared a wrap featuring a blue cheese stuffed burger with lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and sautéed onions along with a side of sweet potatoe fries and a homemade sriracha sauce.
When it came time for the judging, despite being confident in her creation, Payne wasn't sure how the judges would react.
"It was beyond nerve wracking to present my meal to the judges," she recalled. "They literally critiqued everything you did right in front of you. They didn't show much emotion, they just told you what you did that was good and what you might want to do differently. That was extremely stressful."
Payne's attention to detail paid off, and she was awarded the top prize at the event.
"It was a complete surprise that I won," she said. "There were a lot of other talented people at the competition, including my classmates from Meridian."
Payne, along with Perkins student Michael Rafael and Stillwater student Cameron Robinson, were selected to participate in the high school chef event by their instructors, Donna Cantrell and Carolyn LeGrand.
Students were chosen based on their demonstrated leadership throughout the year and their desire to pursue a career in the culinary industry. As the winner of the event, Payne received a set of Gunter Wilhelm Executive Series knives, a favorite among professional chefs worldwide. The top three ProStart student finalists from the 21-city tour will have the opportunity to attend the National Restaurant Association Show and travel to Washington, D.C., where they will spend the day cooking with one of the featured chefs of the White House Chef Tour. The winners will be announced later this summer.