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Alachua County School Wins State Culinary Competition

A team of students from Eastside High School in Alachua County took top honors in the state’s premier culinary competition. Under the direction of Chef Billie DeNunzi, the students from Eastside’s Institute of Culinary Arts won first place in the Florida ProStart Invitational, which is sponsored by the Florida Restaurant Association. Twelve Eastside students competed and each one came back with medals and college scholarships totaling nearly $300,000.

Eastside students took 2nd place statewide in both the Edible Centerpiece and Management Team categories of the competition, and 4th place in the Restaurant Challenge. That overall showing earned them the title of state champion.

The team’s best showing was in the Gourmet Meal category. Team members Eric Wilson, Byron Boucias, Melissa Genosa and Brent Garrison took first place. Their menu included an appetizer of spicy Florida shrimp; a pan roasted stuffed veal chop entrée and a pomegranate lemon cake.

The four will now represent Florida in the 8th Annual National ProStart Invitational which will be held April 24-26, 2009, in San Diego. The team will have to demonstrate its creative abilities through the preparation of their three-course meal in only 60 minutes. Their performance will be observed and rated by judges from leading colleges and universities.