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School teams strut their culinary best

Wednesday's second annual invitational competition for culinary students brought young chefs from throughout Pinellas County to cook up their best work.

Tarpon Springs High School, the Pinellas Technical Education Center (PTEC) in Clearwater, Northeast High School in St. Petersburg and Osceola High School in Seminole sent teams of students to the Largo Cultural Center.

They created edible centerpieces, entrees and desserts under the strict scrutiny of chefs from some of Tampa Bay's top restaurants.

Teams were evaluated on appearance, work organization and cooperation, safety and sanitation.

And the rules for the competition minimized the opportunity for students to get any outside advice: Cell phone ringers off.

No talking to judges, and no communication of any kind - verbal or nonverbal - between students and spectators.

Each school's culinary program gives students the chance to learn about both the artistic aspect of meal planning and food preparation and the business side of the hospitality industry.

Competitions like Wednesday's allow students to show what they've learned.

Last year, Tarpon Springs High's team represented Florida in the National ProStart competition.

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