It was intense, but Jean Gorthy said she enjoyed watching her students compete.
"They're timed, and they had everything down to the wire," said Mrs. Gorthy, a culinary arts teacher at Aiken High School. "There was a certain point there where we were a little worried about getting it done on time. I was just about to cry."
Mrs. Gorthy's students placed third in the 2006 South Carolina Hospitality Student Invitational held Jan. 24 in Myrtle Beach. Eleven teams competed in the event.
The team's entre consisted of chardonnay rosemary grilled vegetable skewers, pan-seared breast of duck with a pomegranate sauce, mushroom wild rice, sauted asparagus and a pina colada sundae.
"It's so intense," Mrs. Gorthy said of the event in which tenths of a point often separate first, second and third places. "I think we made it so intense because they were so focused about it."
Mrs. Gorthy said teachers are not allowed any kind of communication with the students during the contest.
"I can't do anything to coach them," Mrs. Gorthy said. "You can't even do a thumbs up. I had to ask, 'Can I smile at them?' I tried to stay far enough away so that there would not be any opportunity for interaction. It was all them."
Aiken High's culinary management team also received third place.
"I think each team has its own personality," Mrs. Gorthy said. "We want to do things that are unique and innovative and different."
Both Aiken teams also earned $500 scholarships to Johnson & Wales University.
Amber Bowers, a senior, said she enjoyed getting to know her fellow students in a new setting.
"You got to see everybody differently than at school," said Amber, 17.
Senior Amanda Watson said she learned one particularly valuable lesson at the competition.
"We all had to use teamwork to do this," said Amanda, 17. "We all had to learn together."
Reach Nathan Dickinson at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.