With a sound chop, Arnym Solomon severed the head off a salmon Friday as budding chefs sat in Tarpon Springs High School's auditorium and watched with the help of a big screen.
Solomon then ran the knife down the fish's spine. With ease and grace, the veteran chef separated the skin from the deep pink flesh.
The nearly 250 students clapped in appreciation of Solomon's skills with the blade.
Solomon joined fellow chefs James Heywood and Paul Jean Prosperi, all from the Culinary Institute of America, in demonstrated gourmet cooking skills for the students.
"We are exposing young people to higher education in the culinary arts," Solomon said.
Each year, the Culinary Institute of America, based in Hyde Park, N.Y., hosts several symposiums at high schools throughout the country. Tarpon Springs High, home to the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy, was chosen as one of the schools this year.
Friday, the chefs gave insight on everything from how to figure out how much your "pinch" is when it comes to adding spices to the importance of a knife's slant when cutting meats.
Katie Stanzione, director of Tarpon Springs culinary arts program, said Friday was a great opportunity for all students in Pinellas County interested in becoming a chef. She said the symposiums are held only twice a year.
"Any time we have the opportunity to expose the students to real chefs is a great thing," she said. "These are chefs who have been in the trenches."
Students from Dixie Hollins, Osceola Fundamental High, Northeast High and Hillsborough County's Wharton High attended the demonstration.
"I actually want to be a pastry chef," said Hailey Purdue, 14, a freshman at Osceola Fundamental High. "This was fun."
Christina Darring, 15, also a freshman at Osceola, agreed.
"I just love cooking," she said. "It's my passion."
Jordan Guevara, 16, is a student in Tarpon's program who plans to be a chef. He assisted Heywood on Friday.
"It was amazing," Guevara said on having the opportunity to work beside the chef.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.