Culinary students take honors at competition


Published: Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 10:08 p.m.

A group of Eastside High School Culinary students was recently awarded $220,000 in scholarships after competing against more than 400 student chefs at an annual culinary competition in Orlando.

The competition, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, accepts top students from Florida high school culinary programs. This year, students from 49 schools competed in categories including "Culinary Arts" and "Hospitality Management."

Eastside High School's Institute of Culinary Arts sent nine of their program's 75 students to compete. Those selected were: Cane Ahern, Merry Anthony-DeFords, Justin Belkin, Shane Danner, Billy Devlin, Ryan Dupree, Amber Foye, Ben Rooks and Richard Vaughn. Each of the nine students placed first in categories ranging from "Gourmet Meals" to "Edible Centerpieces."

The students walked away with much more than a handful of prize ribbons and the state trophy; instead, they walked away with connections. "The industry is supporting this," said Billie DeNunzio, director of the Institute of Culinary Arts at Eastside High School. "These are the people that will be employing these students one day. These are their connections."

Students are often recruited by top Culinary Institutes and by employers during the competitions.

But even beyond the connections, these students are positioning themselves for their futures. "These students are unbelievable. They come from all different backgrounds, but they all have a love of the culinary arts," said DeNunzio, who has worked with the program for 20 years. "For some, this program is the difference between going to school or not going to school after graduation."

The students will compete for the national title April 13-14 in Charlotte, N.C.

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Glen M. Anderson of the University of Florida has been nominated for the Barbizon Award for Excellence in Scenic, Costume and Light Design, an award offered by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Anderson is nominated for his work in scenic design. His work will be on display April 17-22 during the 39th Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Winners will receive an honorarium of $500, an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the National Design Portfolio Review at Lincoln Center and a two-week summer residency at the Kennedy Center.

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David C. Welch of Gainesville, a U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander, was recently promoted and selected to attend gradute school at Florida State University. Welch will study Performance Technology for the Coast Guard. He is married to Dusty Shreve Welch of Gainesville and is the son of Kathleen Varah and Frank Sieka.

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Oak Hall students Rudy Baum, Alexandra Butterfield, Farha Faisal, Dongil Geum, Blake Jones, Scott Mansfield, Katherine Marley, Amanda Rohde, Timothy Tusing Jr., Colleen Ugliano and Jared Wannenwetsch have been inducted into the Cum Laude Society, the secondary school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa. Induction is based on academic qualifications and is highly competitive, with the top 10 percent of the junior class and top 20 percent of the senior class qualifying.

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Tim Tusing, chess coach at Oak Hall School, was named Chess Coach of the Year for 2007 at the Florida Scholastic Chess League State Championships in Miami. Recently, the K-1 and K-5 open divisions became state champions and the K-3 open division placed third. Tusing, who has coached chess at Oak Hall School for 10 years, says his approach to winning is simple: He encourages students to "take their time and have fun."

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Tamara Vaughn, a ninth grade student at Santa Fe High School, won first place at the National Trumpet Concerto Competition in Fairfax, Va. Vaughn was awarded a plaque and a trumpet in the "Age 11-14" division. Vaughn, a member of the Alachua County Youth Orchestra, is the principal trumpet in this year's All-County High School Honor Band.

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