Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Land O'Lakes student cooks up a victory in Let's Do Gourmet competition

Land O’Lakes High culinary arts student Darryus Lowe, 15, wrapped pork cutlets in prosciutto and walked away a winner.

Pasco County School District

Land O’Lakes High culinary arts student Darryus Lowe, 15, wrapped pork cutlets in prosciutto and walked away a winner.

LAND O'LAKES — Just a few years ago Darryus Lowe was a toddler working alongside his grandmother in her kitchen, learning to bake and mix ingredients. Now the Land O'Lakes freshman has earned a top honor in a statewide culinary competition.

Lowe, 15, claimed first place in the 2013 Let's Do Gourmet High School Recipe Challenge with his recipe for pan-seared pork cutlets wrapped in prosciutto. The competition, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Education Foundation and Let's Do Gourmet, was open to students throughout Florida enrolled in a scholastic program based on the ProStart curriculum; a learning unit that, through classroom lessons, community service projects and placement in restaurant jobs, is designed to prepare students for high-end culinary careers. Each student was asked to devise a recipe consisting of a protein, vegetable and starch, incorporating the Let's Do Gourmet Red Adobo spice into the protein portion of the recipe.

Lowe said that his reason for entering the competition was identical to his motivation for entering the culinary field in the first place: because it's fun.

"With cooking, you can take a dish and make it your way — change up the recipe," he said.

As a small child Lowe learned the finer points of baking from his grandmother, who spent a great deal of time in the kitchen and even assembled a cookbook of her favorite recipes.

"She didn't say why she loved cooking. She just did it," he said. "She taught me how to decorate cakes, which I love."

As he got older, Lowe also enjoyed making stuffed taco dinners for his family and cooking at home with friends. He took his first cooking class at Pine View Middle School. Entering his freshman year at Land O'Lakes High School, he immediately joined the Gators football team as a guard and enrolled in the school's new Academy of Culinary Arts. Recently he joined classmates to prepare a meal for the school's Athletic Foundation Gala, a fundraiser to benefit the school sports programs that featured a special appearance by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Derrick Brooks.

"I tell my students that this is their program. Darryus has taken this very seriously," said Michael Rigberg. He and Jessica Cooper are the teaching chefs who coordinate the Academy of Culinary Arts. "He's very hard-working, tries very hard and is excited to be here."

In late April, Lowe demonstrated the preparation of his pork cutlet recipe, which he served with braised Swiss chard, baby carrots, mashed yucca and tangy barbecue sauce, for contest officials at the academy. He prepared the meal again May 17, when he was honored for claiming first place in the competition — the first cooking contest he ever entered. He also received a set of Let's Do Gourmet spices, two cookbooks and a check presented by Let's Do Gourmet founder and chef Erik Youngs.

Lowe hopes to continue his culinary studies and land a summer job at a restaurant.

"Cooking doesn't feel like school," he said. "It doesn't even feel like work."

To learn more

For more information about ProStart, visit; to learn more about Let's Go Gourmet, visit For more information about the Land O'Lakes High School Culinary Arts Academy, call the school at (352) 524-9400.

Land O'Lakes student cooks up a victory in Let's Do Gourmet competition 06/07/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Prosecutors tried to delay a trial because of the eclipse. Florida judge cited 'Star Trek' in ruling


    The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they cannot be stopped by Monday's total eclipse, a judge has ruled.

    Schweta Kulkarni, from left, Rhea Kulkarni and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out their eclipse glasses on the sun at a gathering of eclipse viewers in Salem, Ore., early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) ORDR102
  2. Top 5 at Noon: Mayoral race affects ballpark decision; stream the eclipse live


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Looking east at Tropicana Field and downtown St. Petersburg.  SCOTT KEELER    |    Times

  3. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …

  4. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20


    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

  5. Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis


    The day the clown died, Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis.

    Jerry Lewis in 2005. Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91 (New York Times)