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Food Fight

Food Fight
December 2009
Culinary whiz kids cook for college scholarships in the 2010 Best Teen Chef Competition

With a bounty of local ingredients, distinctive foodways, and countless charms, Charleston has lured chefs from around the world to work in her celebrated restaurants. But isn’t it time we produced more homegrown talent? Well, the Best Teen Chef Competition aims to do just that.

For 11 years, the Art Institute (AI), with 40-plus campuses across the country, has hosted this contest to recruit chefs into the field. Local high school seniors start by sending an entry form to AI of Charleston by February 5, followed by a written recipe sample and an essay due February 26. Take note: college scholarships are on the line.

Chosen students compete in an April 17 cook-off, where their creations will be judged by faculty as well as Lowcountry chefs (prestigious judges of the past have included Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill and Sean Brock of McCrady’s). “The teens prepare the same dish, but they can use different garnishes and flavors, so the results are quite unique,” says Susan Wigley, director of culinary arts for the school.

The local champ receives a $3,000 scholarship to AI of Charleston and an invitation to the national competition in Houston on May 15. As for the grand prize? It includes a day-long internship with Food Network Kitchens in New York City, a full culinary scholarship to the student’s local AI, and more. So teens, grab your spatulas, spoons, and spices, and let the cooking begin.

The Art Institute of Charleston, 24 N. Market St., (843) 727-3500,