Teenager prepares for culinary scholarship competition

Michael Hadobas should feel right at home on Saturday when he competes in the finals of the Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Culinary Scholarship Competition in Dallas. Accompanying the senior from Silverado High School to the competition will be “two ProStart culinary team members, my grandpa, my uncle, my father Robert, my siblings and their best friends,” Michael says.

The winner of the semifinals at the Culinary Institute of Las Vegas in March, Michael says he felt “really good” and had fun while competing in the local competition, although he admits “it was kind of intimidating” when he competed against a former classmate.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always been in the kitchen,” says Michael, 16.

He says his mother, Crystal Hadobas, often tells the story of finding a 3-year-old Michael standing at a stove with 12 broken eggs cracked in a pan without a shell in the pan.

“I love cakes. I work a lot with fondant and gum paste,” says Michael, who also plays tuba in the school band and is a guitar player.

He is a member of the National Restaurant Association’s ProStart program at Silverado, attends a food production class and prepares a meal every Thursday with ProStart members.

At the semifinals, six youths were judged in three areas: knife skills, kitchen work and finished products. The teens had to prepare from a menu issued in advance that included a shrimp cocktail and sauteed breast of chicken chasseur with broccoli and rice pilaf. Each part of the competition has a time limit, with the students competing at staggered start times.

At the national competition, 23 student chefs will prepare tortilla soup, starburst salad with vinaigrette, tejas glazed pork cutlet with Southwestern succotash, Mexican rice, sweet potato and red onion compote.

The first three finishers of the national competition will receive a full-tuition scholarship to the Art Institute they represented at the competition. Depending on their finishing order, all other competitors have a chance to earn either half-tuition scholarships, quarter-tuition scholarships or $2,000 scholarships.

At the local competition, Michael won a $5,000 scholarship.

According to Anne Dean, director of public relations and marketing for the Art Institute of Las Vegas, the Art Institutes are “really committed to seeing that culinary students flourish.”

“I’m getting really excited for it,” Michael says of the competition. “I am a little bit nervous, but I feel confident.

“I’m going to win,” he adds.

Regardless of the outcome of the national competition, Michael says he is planning to attend the Culinary Institute of Las Vegas and participate in its baking and pastry associates program.

Michael says his goal is to have his own bakery and specialize in wedding cakes and other specialty cakes.

In other youth news:

* The Greater Las Vegas After-School All-Stars will present its third annual showcase at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Clark County amphitheater, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway. The showcase will feature performing groups from the After-School All-Stars programs, including mariachi bands, drum lines, choral groups, drama clubs and dance groups. Admission is free. For details, call 382-5447.

If you know of a worthy candidate for this column, mail information to Youth Spotlight, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070, or send faxes to 383-4676.

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