By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Iron Chef Turlock 2019
Pitman takes top prize in Italian challenge
Iron Chef pic1
Pitman High culinary students took home the trophy for Iron Chef Turlock 2019. PICTURED: Pitman Principal Angela Freeman, Rachel San Jose, James Insell, Logan Rabenburg, Kimberly Cervantes and Pitman culinary instructor Mohini Singh (SABRA STAFFORD/The Journal).

They diced, sliced, sautéed and seared and in the end, the culinary students at Pitman High School had cooked up a three-course meal that earned them a victory in the annual Iron Chef competition.

Iron chef2
Pitman High culinary students Kimberly Cervantes and Rachel San Jose prepare their team’s dessert, a classic tiramisu (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The Iron Chef competition sees the two culinary arts programs from Pitman and Turlock high schools face off in a test of cooking skills to see which cuisine proves the tastiest to the panel of judges. Scholarship money and the Iron Chef trophy with a year's bragging rights are on the line.

The teams are comprised of the high school principal from each school and four culinary arts students. The teams are lead by the culinary arts instructors from each school, who can provide encouragement and suggestions, but cannot do any of the preparations. The students on the runner up team get scholarships of $250 each, while the winning team gets $500 scholarships for each student on the team.

Iron chef4
Turlock High culinary students are hard at work on their meal, including Jacinto Revuelta who was preparing the roasted asparagus (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The teams are selected by the culinary instructors, who look for students that show skill in the kitchen and a certain level of dedication.

“For me, I look for students who do really good in class, and show the potential and desire to continue on in the culinary field,” said THS Culinary Arts Instructor Robert Sheets.

The PHS team was comprised of students Kimberly Cervantes, James Insell, Logan Rabenburg, Rachel San Jose, Principal Angela Freeman and Culinary Arts Instructor Mohini Singh.

Iron Chef3
Pitman students James Insell and Logan Rabenburg check on the main course (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

On the THS team were students Andre Ford, Faith Hernandez, Alan McPherson, Jacinto Revuelta, Principal Gabe Ontiveros, and led by Sheets.

The judges this year were Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan, Turlock City Councilwoman Nicole Larson, Jose Cortes from Toscana’s at the Tower, George Kosmas from Crust and Crumb and Steve Backus from Red Brick Bar and Grill.

Each team had to create an Italian themed dinner with an appetizer, beverage, entree and dessert.

Pitman made an appetizer of preserved tomato bruschetta atop sourdough crostini. The entree was an Italian braised short rib over creamy polenta with sautéed Portobello mushrooms. Dessert was a classic tiramisu with an Italian cream soda.

Turlock’s menu featured an appetizer of caprese stuffed avocados and an entree of Scottadito lamb chop with polenta and roasted asparagus. Dessert was a chocolate anise cannoli with an Italian cream soda. They also made a lavender peach gelato as a palate cleanser.

Iron Chef5
Faith Hernandez talks with Turlock High culinary instructor Robert Sheets before serving her team’s appetizer of caprese stuffed avocados (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The panel judged each course on taste, appearance, aroma, uniqueness of the menu, and the overall presentation.

“The food was phenomenal,” said Kosmas. “It was very, very close. I think it came down to just a couple of points on the appetizer that put them [Pitman] on top.”