Choreography was as much a part of the first Culinary Cup competition Thursday as cooking.
Five teams of students cooking meals in a carefully prepared fashion, using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, vegetables and potatoes.
The Culinary Cup was for middle school students, who are taking “introduction to culinary arts” — and earning high school credit.
The competition was held at Lanier Charter Career Academy — The Oaks. Audience members included culinary students from LCCA, parents, relatives and school officials.
Teams from North Hall and South Hall middle schools and the World Language Academy competed. Two teams each from the North Hall and South Hall schools were in the cooking event.
The winner of the first cup — and taking home the large silver cup for the champion — was the team from World Language Academy. It included Wynne Kelly, Sarah Catherine Willard, Kaylee Alvarado, Glorismel Chavez and Kylie O’Donnell.
The teams started about 15 minutes apart and had an hour to make their meat, salad and vegetable dishes. The winning WLA team was the last team to start the competition.
Potatoes and lettuce came from the LCCA horticulture program garden.
Main dishes included lemon butter chicken thighs and sweet and salty chicken pie.
The teams waited for a signal to enter the competition room, then moved in orchestrated fashion to wash their hands, put on gloves and begin their preparations. One member from each team carried a clipboard with detailed instructions on how to prepare the meal.
Practice has been a common theme, according to “team 4” from South Hall. Makenzie Duncan said her team has practiced “a lot” for two months.
Team member Jesse Witt chimed in with “three times a week.” He also readily admitted part of the reason for taking the class is “I like eating food.” Team members unanimously agreed they all “just like cooking.”
Judges came from area food companies. Three judges were Steve Chambers, of Levy Restaurants, which does food and beverages for the Atlanta Falcons training camp; Tony Schmidt, corporate chef for Performance Food Service; and Frank Harney, who owns the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Flowery Branch.
Chris Mitas, culinary arts instructor at LCCA, helped organize the teams.
Rhonda Samples, director of the county’s career, technical and agricultural education, said she hopes to expand the competition in 2017 to high schools — and expects some of the same students to compete.
Samples said the event happened because “we were talking one day and Dave Moody said, ‘We ought to sponsor a culinary camp for all our middle schools that feed into our high schools.’”