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Surviving the Heat of the Kitchen
by: ARA
(ARA) - You’ve seen aspiring singing idols, survivors in the wilderness and gold-medal athletes. Now meet the Best Teen Chef in America Patricia Homma, who sautéed, roasted and whisked her way to the top award in a national high school Culinary Arts scholarship competition sponsored by The Art Institutes, a leading educator in design and culinary arts nationwide.

After an intense two-hour cook-off, competing with 17 other high school seniors from around the country, Homma, an honors student at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., was awarded the gold medal and a $30,000 scholarship to attend The Art Institute of Atlanta. The competition was held at The Art Institute of New York City.

Homma dreams of having all her family and friends celebrate every holiday at her home, the way it was at her mom’s house growing up in Brazil. After she moved to the United States in 1997, Homma began to watch cooking shows on television after school and was inspired to try some recipes and start cooking for her family. She’s been cooking ever since, for her friends as well. Although busy with work and a local youth group, she still finds time to watch Food TV, where her current favorites are “Iron Chef” and “30-Minute Meals with Chef Rachael Ray.”

Each contestant submitted a three-course menu as part of the entry requirements. Homma’s menu was titled “Tropical Sensations” and featured spinach and mango salad and grilled salmon (recipes below).

Now in its fourth year, The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef in America competition is an annual scholarship program that seeks to spotlight and recognize the most promising young culinary talent in the country. Eighteen high school seniors and would-be chefs were selected as finalists at regional competitions held in March at each of the Art Institutes where Culinary Arts programs are offered. More than $190,000 in tuition scholarships was awarded to the top nine finalists.

Next year’s Best Teen Chef 2004 competition will take place at The Art Institute of California - Orange County on May 22. Deadline for entries is Feb. 13, with local cook-off competitions taking place March 27. To receive information, register at

First through third place winners received $30,000 scholarships from The Art Institutes. In addition to Homma, second place finisher Lauren Cianfrani, representing The Art Institute of Philadelphia and Jenny Winiecki, representing The Art Institutes International Minnesota, who finished third, received $30,000 scholarships.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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