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Practice makes perfect: Culinary arts students win gold at ‘Chopped’ competition

La Porte High School seniors Alexis Cruz and Megan McWhorter tantalized the judges’ taste buds with their dish, and it was good enough to earn them the top prize at the January 26 ‘Chopped’ competition, held at Houston’s Culinary Institute LeNôtre.

But it wasn’t just the salsa and tortilla chip-infused meatloaf that impressed the judging panel.

“They told us our plating was impressive,” Cruz said.

Though this was their first official cooking contest, Cruz and McWhorter are no strangers to coming up with a dish on the fly. They typically place near the top of their class at La Porte High School during the weekly ‘Chopped’ practice sessions.

Just like the annual contest at LeNôtre, Rost provides students with a basket of mystery ingredients, and sets a timer. Each week, after judges give their opinions during the practice contest, Rost provides students advice from his own experience as a professional chef.

His method seems to be working, as La Porte High School bested nine other area culinary arts teams at the contest.

La Porte students are now looking toward their next competition, to be held in March in Austin against more than 40 other teams.

Photo: La Porte High School culinary arts students Alexis Cruz and Megan McWhorter show off their first place awards from the ‘Chopped’ competition held January 26 at Culinary Institute  LeNôtre in Houston. Pictured from left-to-right are: Carlin Grammer, La Porte High School principal, Cruz, McWhorter and Chef Roy Rost, the high school’s culinary arts advisor.