Nine high school teams competed at Moraine Valley Community College’s annual Culinary Skills Competition last month. Shepard High School took first place overall followed by Andrew in second and Richards in third.

Competing high schools included Shepard, Andrew, Richards, Stagg, Reavis, Oak Lawn, Eisenhower, Argo and Sandburg. Most participants are interested in the field and get an introduction to the Culinary Arts Program at Moraine Valley.

High school students compete at Moraine Valley Community College’s annual Culinary Skills Competition.

The schools had months to practice the three composed (individual plated) dishes on which they would be judged – salad, entrée and dessert. They were designated a protein, could create any kind of salad, but they each had to use the same recipe to make cheesecake, and they could add any garnish or flavor they chose. Each school requested the ingredients they needed ahead of time but could not bring any additional products. Once on Moraine Valley’s campus, the school teams of three started preparing the food, each working on a different dish.

Moraine Valley culinary students and instructors were present but only as guides as to where items were in the college kitchen. Industry and corporate judges included people who have worked in fine dining establishments or in the field for over 30 years.

“We want good, constructive criticism,” said Dean Eliacostas, instructor and program coordinator of Restaurant/Hotel Management and Culinary Arts. “It’s intense; controlled chaos. It’s very high energy, and there’s a lot to do. Every year it gets more competitive. The stuff they do is pretty technical.”

Each dish was judged on a range of criteria including overall appearance, consistency, plating, compatibility of ingredients, flavors and textures. Teams received points per dish, which also received placement. Many teams were only points away from placement:


Salad –  1st place, Shepard

2nd place, Eisenhower

3rd place, Reavis

Entrée – 1st place, Shepard

2nd place, Andrew

3rd place, Richards

Dessert – 1st place, Sandburg

2nd place, Andrew

3rd place, Argo


“This is a great event. I love doing this every year, and the high schools love it,” Eliacostas said. “I get so much joy seeing these students compete. You feel the stress in the room and see the intensity on their faces.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Moraine Area Career System and the college.


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or