A Rising Culinary Star Wins Student Chef Cook-Off

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of the Sunshine State! Juliet K., a talented seventh grader from Florida Virtual School (FLVS), captured the hearts and palates of judges at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 2022 Lunchroom Wars student chef cook-off. Her mouthwatering creation: the Florida Portabella Bruschetta Burger paired with Florida sweet corn and tomatoes, accompanied by a side of delectable truffle fries. Let’s explore how Juliet’s passion for cooking, educational experience, and determination led her to victory.

A Remarkable Culinary Talent

Florida Sunrise cupcakes

Out of more than 300 student submissions statewide, Juliet was selected as one of the top three finalists due to the delicious “Florida Sunrise” cupcakes she made for her entry into the competition. They were mango cake cupcakes filled with passion fruit curd, topped with strawberry-lemon buttercream, a candied lemon peel, and a locally sourced orchid.

This honor granted her the incredible opportunity to compete live in a kitchen stadium, captivating judges, cameras, and photographers at the prestigious Epicurean Hotel in Tampa. Using tasty, in-season, Florida-fresh ingredients to create a lunch dish attractive to students in a lunchroom setting, Juliet created a vegetarian burger that was not only super delicious but also healthy. She wowed the judges and secured her well-deserved first-place prize—a $5,000 Florida 529 Savings Plan College Scholarship.

Lunchroom Wars Winner

A Supportive Educational Environment

As a homeschool online student with FLVS for the past four years, Juliet enjoys exploring her love of cooking and baking through the FLVS cooking club. “I love the recipes, the culture of the food, learning where food comes from and how they make the food,” says Juliet. “It’s really a lovely way to connect with people and learn what interests me.”

When asked why they decided to homeschool with FLVS, Juliet’s mother, Melanie, said it was due to the school’s well-established reputation, structured curriculum, and the 25-year history of expertise in online learning. The abundance of extracurricular activities, clubs, and diverse class offerings for high school online students at FLVS also impressed them both.

The Spark of Culinary Passion

Juliet credits her mother as her initial inspiration for her culinary pursuits. From her Easy Bake Oven experiments to emulating her mom’s cooking, Juliet’s interest in the art of cooking began at a young age. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with more time on her hands, she honed her culinary skills by exploring various techniques. “Ever since I was little, I loved researching how to make food and especially using my creativity with cooking.” Juliet quickly realized her innate talent for cooking and baking, which ultimately led to her remarkable Lunchroom Wars victory.

See some of her creations here:

A Future in Culinary Arts

With her Lunchroom Wars triumph under her belt, Juliet’s culinary aspirations have soared to new heights. She plans to share her culinary delights at local fairs and markets, including the Brevard Children’s Business Fair, through “Juliet’s Bakeshop.” Excitingly, Juliet’s future with FLVS looks promising as she eagerly anticipates diving into culinary and hospitality courses while continuing her journey with the cooking club. “I’m looking forward to the culinary and hospitality courses and, of course, continuing with the cooking club,” she said. “As well as getting good grades!”

Looking Ahead

Looking forward, Juliet hopes to continue with science classes and become a pastry chef. When asked what advice she would give other FLVS online students, she said, “Choose classes that you enjoy, ignite your passion, and find out what makes you happy.”

Juliet’s story highlights that online learning does not mean learning alone, from live lessons with pets to studying with cooking club friends, siblings, and friends. There are so many ways for students to learn together!

Parents, enter the #MyVirtualSchoolSquad Contest on social media showing us how your FLVS students learn with siblings, pets, teammates, and friends by October 13, 2023 for a chance to win a $75 Amazon gift card. View official contest rules at flvs.net/contest.

Plus, interested in learning more about the 60+ online clubs and activities Florida Virtual School offers? Check them out here.

Katie HodginsKatie Hodgins brings her wealth of experience and passion to the FLVS team, assuming the role of Content and Public Relations Specialist. A military veteran and lifelong learner, Katie enjoys communicating unique and innovative stories about people, places, and opportunities to inspire and engage the next generation. Having traveled throughout the world, she is excited to plant roots here in Florida and with Florida Virtual School.

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