Atlantic Cape Awards Two Scholarships to an Aspiring Chef and Baker

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On Thursday, aspiring chefs from all over the Garden State were vying for a chance to attend Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts for free.

All they had to do was cook or bake their way in.

Things were heating up at Atlantic Cape Community College on Thursday, August 2nd, as nine people put on their aprons to show off their skills as they hope to "Cook Their Way to 18k."

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“The first judging was a crowdsource, everybody voted," said Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College. "So we took the top ten in each category and then we had the faculty evaluate for the best five in each category.”

Nine contestants, four for baking and pastry and five for culinary, served up their best dishes in hopes of winning $18,000.

“That’s a lot of money," said McClay. "That’s a really exciting opportunity. It’s a year’s worth of tuition. It’s the one-year certificate program; it covers all the costs and expenses.”

The aspiring bakers and chefs had two hours to create their masterpiece.

Then they were judged by local professional chefs on taste, presentation, and sanitation.

“They were so organized and so focus and they got right to work. So this has been great. They’ve been having a good time,” said McClay.

From Mississippi Mud Cake to macaroni and cheese, the judges tasted each creation.


But in the end, Ahmad Reed’s Rose French Toast won the contest for the baking and pastry section.

“I just like the creativity of it," said Reed, of Marmora. "This isn’t a recipe you just see anywhere at like a normal restaurant. I think that it was just an out of the box recipe.”

As for culinary, Maria Cotton took home the prize with her Thai Curry Chicken and Shrimp dish.

“I’m in my 50s and I like to have fun now in life," said Cotton, of Williamstown. "So I just thought I’d do something that’s more enjoyable and see where it leads me.”

Those who didn’t take home the top prize were given a certificate for a free knife kit.

The team at the Academy of Culinary Arts hopes to hold the contest again next summer to make more culinary dreams come true.


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