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News from 2022-2023

Posted: April 19, 2023

At Eldorado, Food Truck Wars Competition Shows Students Value of Hard Work

Students from various programs at the school took part in the project.

They donned hairnets and gloves and spent a recent Friday lunch period duking it out in a food truck wars competition straight out of “Top Chef.”

“We’re almost out of fries,” one student yelled out as his teammates at The Burger Joint served chocolate and vanilla milkshakes and took orders from customers in the Eldorado High School courtyard.

Also vying for the win were makeshift food trucks Golden Waffles, Kick’n Chicken, and Tacbros, which was serving both chicken and beef tacos and, not to be outdone by The Burger Joint’s milkshakes, was offering ice cream treats of its own.

Unlike the fierce television cooking competitions where chefs at times sabotage their rivals, Eldorado’s culinary arts students seemed more focused on the novelty of the competition than on besting one another.

“It’s all for fun,” The Burger Joint’s Isabella Apodaca said.

Her team had initially planned to sell corndogs but ran out of time. Customers didn’t seem to mind as the burgers and fries went quickly.

Across the courtyard at the Golden Waffles food truck, a hastily written sign alerted customers to the fact that the hash browns weren’t available.

“They were put in the freezer instead of the fridge, so they didn’t thaw,” Camden Davis admitted sheepishly.

He said he was less concerned about winning the competition than about passing the culinary arts class.

“This is a huge part of our grade,” he said.

Despite the pressure, Davis praised the culinary arts program.

“It’s one of the best classes here,” he said.

Much of the credit for that goes to Anastasia Thurgood Cordova, their boisterous culinary arts teacher who goes out of her way to connect with students and provide them with unique experiences.

“My students really showed up and kicked butt today. I’m so proud of them,” the first-year culinary teacher said after the competition.

“They did a really great job,” she said. “I want them to feel a sense of accomplishment, and I also hope that some of them got an idea of how rewarding hard work can be. I think something that a lot of students struggle with is taking pride in their work and being motivated to work for that reason, and so I feel like today if nothing else they saw a ton of food get made and a ton of food get eaten.”

And if the experience left some students thinking that they might like to open up their own food truck someday, even better, she said.

The cross-discipline project was four months in the making and engaged students in different Eldorado programs.

Culinary students came up with the names, logo concepts and menus, and they prepared and served the food the day of the event. Students in the school’s woods program made the fronts of the “food trucks.” Computer graphics students designed the logos and menus. Students in AP drawing and painting drew the logos on the food truck fronts. DECA students made commercials that were then aired on the school’s online news show and made posters advertising the event. Eldorado Senate students helped serve the food. And statistics classes were analyzing the data after the event to show how each food truck did in a variety of categories.

“Our goal was to simulate a ‘real-life’ work scenario so culinary students get an idea of how food service goes,” said Eldorado Activities Director Joshua Blondin. “Students get proper training in food safety, handling, and sanitation and get to put those skills into practice. All other departments involved also got to simulate these ‘real-life’ scenarios for their students.”

Blondin added that “any event that can foster a celebration of learning in a fun way improves school culture – which is always a focus here.”

So which team ended up with the bragging rights?

That would be the Kick’n Chicken food truck, which served up chicken sandwiches. And not just because the team sold the most entrees.

“I didn’t have to help out their truck once,” Thurgood Cordova said. “They just ran like a smoothly oiled machine. They took the cake, so they’ll get a little pizza party.”