Silverado High School culinary arts students were victorious last week in the inaugural Sweet Genius Regional Baking Competition.
Silverado hosted the contest on Dec. 8 and competed against Barstow, Apple Valley High, Granite Hills High and Lucerne Valley. Each team of students made three types of sweets which were judged by Deborah Hunt and Guylene Lawler from Guy’s Cake Supplies and More in Victorville.
All teams had two hours to create their confections using ingredients such as German dark cocoa, almond extract, fresh vanilla bean and fresh strawberries.
Granite Hills finished second, and Barstow took third place while the Hawks took home the trophy, which was designed for the competition by Apple Valley High metal shop students.
Hawks seniors Erik Quintero and Cleo Gomez joined juniors Nicholas Shila and Kimberly Rodriguez in creating the winning sweets. They made a red and green puff pastry Christmas tree; a traditional wedding-style shortbread cookie with a blast of almond extract, topped with hand-piped designs; and buttermilk-based red velvet cupcake, with a heavy whipping cream and strawberry shaped a designed to look like a Christmas tree with presents, served with cinnamon hot cocoa.
The young bakers are learning the craft from culinary arts teacher Geovanni Sanchez, who came to Silverado this year. Sanchez has opened the Hawk Cafe, an on-campus restaurant that also delivers food to staff members on campus.
As part of the cafe’s launch earlier this school year, Sanchez held a contest to design the cafe’s signature sandwich, the Hawk Burger. Rodriguez, a third-year culinary arts student, won the contest with her creation, a spicy burger featuring Serrano peppers, jalapeno powder and bacon.
Principal Heather Conkle said Sanchez has been a great addition to the staff, and the students echo that sentiment.
“Mr. Sanchez is always willing to help encourage students to achieve bigger and better things,” senior culinary arts student Samuel Lopez said. “He makes the kids feel like family and that everyone matters. He always wants to make us laugh to see us smile.”
The baking contest was organized by the Mountain Desert Regional Career Occupational Pathways JPA and is the second round of regional culinary competitions this school year, with the first being High Desert Chopped in October.
The competitions were created to help students get ready for the SkillsUSA national competition later this school year. Victor Valley High School won High Desert Chopped, which was held at the VVHS campus. Silverado and VVHS were chosen as host schools because they have the largest kitchens, organizers said.
Photo captions: Top — From left to right, Silverado Assistant Principal Willie Jones joins students Erik Quintero, Cleo Gomez, Nicholas Shila and Kimberly Rodriguez along with culinary arts teacher Geovanni Sanchez in celebrating the Hawks’ victory in the Sweet Genius Regional Baking Competition. Middle — Student Kimberly Rodriguez designed the Hawk Burger for the launch of the Hawk Cafe at Silverado. Bottom — A student puts icing on the Hawks' winning cookie creation.