Several of her former schoolmates and a proud teacher were in attendance recently at the annual Rend Lake College Culinary Arts Omelet Cook-Off when Flora High School product Jennifer Lush took home top honors and a tuition waiver.
Lush, who graduated from high school a year ago, has accepted the scholarship and will enroll at Rend Lake College for Fall Semester 2003.
The winner whipped up a Pizza Omelet, which she said "is great for kids because it gets them to eat breakfast foods they might not normally eat."
Lush went through several recipes for the challenging cooking showdown, before finally deciding on the pizza variation, which she said can have a multitude of substitutions to come up with whatever one desires. For instance, she said, pepperoni, sausage or Canadian bacon for meat lovers or onions, peppers, mushrooms and olives for the vegetarian connoisseur.
Using Fiestaware colored dishes and sporting an equally colorful scarf, Lush differentiated herself from the rest of the pack. Adding her own style and panache was part of the plan.
Since graduation from FHS, Lush has been working as the Manager of the Deli & Bakery at Buehler’s in Flora. It was there she decided she might want to pursue a career in culinary arts management.
Her high school Family Consumer Science teacher, Shari Hamilton, also was instrumental in inspiring Lush’s interest in a culinary career and in letting her know about the RLC contest. The proud mentor brought several current students with her to cheer Lush on to victory.
Thanks to the successful completion of her program on the Ina campus, Lush’s career aspirations include operating a catering business or becoming a wedding planner. If her performance at the Omelet Cook-Off is any indication, she certainly has the creativity to make it interesting.
"I thought it was just a good all-around presentation," said Noah Schlag, a student at Hamilton County Senior High School.
Six contestants showcased their culinary abilities during the two-hour contest. Lush will be joined by runner-up Megan Whaley of Benton in Instructor Diane Catalfamo’s Culinary Arts program this fall. Jennifer Winkler (McLeansboro) garnered third-place honors.
Other contestants were Debbie Luttinen (Mt. Vernon), Chasity Watt (McLeansboro) and Melanie Wood (Wayne City).
Three judges assumed the responsibility of awarding a tuition-waiver scholarship to the winner. Contestants were judged on recipe, presentation, interaction with audience and sanitation.
Judges for the event were Ed Billingsley, RLC Division Chair of Applied Science; Charles Followell, RLC Food Service Instructor at the Big Muddy River Correctional Center and a graduate of the RLC Culinary Arts program, and Lois Kessler, Culinary Arts Instructor at North County Technical Institute in St. Louis.