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Posted: May 7, 2013

40-Minutes of Cooking Qualifies Sandia Teen Chef for National Competition

Rebeckah Ruiz gets chance to go to Washington, D.C.

Three Sandia High culinary arts students cooked up their best contemporary American dishes for a chance to travel to Washington, D.C., later this year a part of the Cutting Edge Tour Challenge.

Students Shannon Montgomery, Rebeckah Ruiz and Kevin Zima presented three different dishes for judges Maneet Chauhan, a chef on the Food Network’s “Chopped” series; Terry Keene, owner of the Artichoke Café; and Steve Paternoster, owner of Scalo Northern Italian Grill.

In the end, it was Ruiz’s herb-crusted buffalo steak with black garlic risotto, butternut ginger puree and butternut squash roses that was judged the best dish in this, the 10th stop on a 21-city tour to find the nation’s top teen chef.

Chauhan praised Ruiz’s choice of buffalo “It was extraordinary,” she said. Keene noted that her plate, “Had courage written all over it.”

As the winner of the local competition, Ruiz, who is a sophomore at Sandia, received a set of Gunter Wilhelm executive series knives and the chance to spend a day in the kitchen at the residence of Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., if she wins the national competition.

Montgomery, a senior at Sandia, prepared a stuffed chicken breast with three-cheese ravioli and a southwest-style pasta puttanesca sauce. The judges praised her dish as, “magnificent and gutsy,” while giving her special recognition for making her ravioli from scratch.

Zima, a junior at Sandia, prepared a stuffed chicken thigh, gnocchi and a lemon poblano sauce with baby arugula. The judges praised Zima for his, “excellent technique” and his handmade gnocchi.

Paternoster gave each of the students a copy of Chauhan’s new book Flavors of My World and treated them to dinner at Scalo Northern Italian Grill.

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