Student Bakes His Way To A Scholarship

BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Staff Writer

Jamaica resident Luis Mendez (second from right) finished second in America’s Best High School Chef Competition.

Jamaica resident Luis Mendez (second from right) finished second in America’s Best High School Chef Competition.

When Luis Mendez attempted to bake a lemon scented cake topped with crème fraiche, chopped macadamia nuts and a lemon basil sorbet for the first time he could not get the sorbet to freeze up.

As the clock ticked away during America’s Best High School Chef Competition, he began to panic.

One of the assistant’s at Monroe College, the host of the competition, helped out by placing the sorbet on the top shelf of the freezer, but it still was not completely frozen so Mendez grabbed the frozen parts and made it work.

His cake helped him land second place in the baking competition and a scholarship that will pay half his tuition for an Associate’s degree at Monroe’s Culinary Arts program.

“This dish, out of all of them, is definitely my favorite,” he said. “It’s the one I poured my heart into.”

Mendez started cooking in 2011, when he started attended the Food and Finance High School in Manhattan.

He said that baking is his favorite part of cooking, and he enjoys making sorbet the best, despite his recent close call at the competition.

Out of 33 students who competed at the event on Feb. 28 at the Culinary Arts Center in New Rochelle, five of them were from Queens, including Mendez, a Jamaica resident.

When Mendez graduates in June, he will continue to study baking at Monroe where he will fine-tune his craft and continue working towards his goal of opening up his own catering company or restaurant.

Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, jgibbons@queenspress.com, or @jgibbons2.

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