Whipped into shape: NC’s edition of “Chopped”


Isabella Keaton

Incorporating orange, oats, sriracha, and chicken in their dishes, the students prepare the kitchen and find their recipes. This competition takes place every year and students love it. The competition encourages students to engage more in their work and focus more on the dishes.

Isabella Keaton, Reporter, Photographer

Culinary teacher Chelsea Hughey hosted her sixth year of NC’s very own Culinary Chopped, mirroring the original Food Network show on December 6 and 7. The students began their challenge in their four person group to make a dish filled with four necessary ingredients: oats, chicken, broccoli, and orange. Each of the eight groups competing consisted of two executive chefs and two sous chefs, who assist the executive chefs. The executive chefs picked out the recipe and made the plans, and the sous chefs helped make it happen by cooking and cleaning. The sous chefs and executive chef switched positions each day.

“They’re out of their comfort zone today. They’ve heard of all these ingredients but never put them all together,” Hughey said.

Hughey graduated college with a culinary degree and began her career as a family consumer science teacher. Teaching home economics classes, Hughey only became familiar with small household kitchens as opposed to large, commercial size kitchens. She then went on to take more culinary classes at Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales, and Chef’s Academy at Morrisville. As the current culinary teacher at NC, Hughey loves teaching hands-on cooking and new cooking methods to her students.

“I love seeing these students explore new ingredients and new cooking methods and things they’ve never done before. Seeing them eat the products they make, I know I’m not just influencing them now, but for the rest of their life. They can go home and make their own meals, they know what they’re doing,” Hughey said.

On December 7, a group of students in her second period class, group one, made savory chicken oatmeal. This group brought the chicken to a boil and slowly added the oats to create their dish. Typically a Chinese breakfast, this group made for great competition.

Group one- Savory Chicken Oatmeal

Group number two came at their competitors with their skinny orange chicken dish. The group covered the chicken with a sweet, but spicy, orange base sauce and presented it with a side of broccoli and oatmeal.

Group two- Skinny Orange Chicken

Group three, on the other hand, took their ingredients to the next level with a savory chicken alfredo. Instead of just grilling the chicken, they coated it with oatmeal, added orange zest, and mixed in sautéed broccoli to incorporate the four main ingredients.

Group three- Chicken Alfredo Twist

Group number four made a similar dish, except they incorporated a fettuccine sauce with the oatmeal glaze on the chicken. The dish also included a side of plain broccoli.

Group four- Fettuccine sauce with Oatmeal Glazed Chicken

Group five created a stir fry with chicken coated in oatmeal. After the chicken, the group prepared a second stir fry with broccoli and onions. This group also took the time to make their plate look nice, adding a dab of sriracha sauce to the middle of the plate.

Group five- Stir Fry with Oatmeal coated Chicken

Group six created a dish with oatmeal breaded chicken and a spicy orange sauce. They served their side of broccoli with rice and separated the chicken from the spicy orange sauce.

Group six- Oatmeal Breaded Chicken with Spicy Orange sauce

Group seven whipped up an oats and chicken porridge. They cut up the chicken into small pieces and used the meat in the dish.

Group seven- Oats and Chicken Porridge

Lastly, group eight cooked oatmeal coated orange chicken and sautéed it with broccoli. After the chicken cooked all the way, they added their special sauce and added a touch of salt.

Group eight- Oatmeal coated Orange Chicken sautéed with broccoli

The groups all worked well together and made eight great dishes. Sous chefs helped in the kitchen, and the executive chefs created amazing recipes. The class all came together at the end to help clean dishes and put away ingredients.

After a long class of cooking, NC teachers Renee Brown, Kathy Ezzell, and Christina Mayes came to judge all eight groups’ work. Group three and group six’s dishes seemed as the two they all could not stop thinking about.

While group three’s chicken alfredo tasted delicious, group six managed to use orange, the main ingredient, in a more powerful way. The judges, conflicted between the two tasty dishes, decided this class period a tie between both groups.