High School Cooking Competition

April 11, 2011 9:44:55 AM PDT
Several Marengo Community High School students will be putting their cooking skills to the test later this month at the National ProStart Invitational in Kansas. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers a 2 year culinary arts and restaurant managements education program. The students from Marengo beat out schools from across Illinois and on April 29th, they will compete with nearly 40 other schools from around the nation for a chance at more than $1.3 million in scholarships. The students are showing us how to cook Chicken Piccata, a dish that helped them win the recent Illinois ProStart Competition.

Recipe: Chicken Piccata

Number of portions: 4
Portion size: 1 chicken breast
Cooking method: Pan fry


Chicken breast, skinless, boneless 4 count
All-purpose flour 1 cup
Salt 1/2 tsp.
White pepper 1/2 tsp.
Garlic Powder 3/4 tsp.
Olive Oil 1 Tbsp.
Butter, cold 8 Tbsp.
Wine, Pinot Grigio 1/3 cup
Chicken broth 1/4 cup
Lemons, squeezed 1/4 cup (about 4 lemons)
Capers, drained 3 Tbsp.
Parsley, minced 4 Tbsp.


1. Place chicken breasts between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or rolling pin, lightly pound chicken into 1/4 thickness.

2. Blend flour with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, place into shallow pan. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken into the flour making sure you slap the chicken between the hands to get rid of any excess flour.

3. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (not extra virgin, it will smoke) and 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Over medium-high heat, cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked thorough, about 3 minutes per side. If your skillet is not big enough to hold the 4 breasts, take the first two cooked chickens and put in baking pan with foil over it and put it in an oven at 200 degrees to hold. Continue to cook the next two chickens in the skillet.

4. Once the chickens are all out of the skillet and in a 200 degree oven (loosely covered with foil), quickly deglaze the pan with the wine while using a whisk to stir the bits of chicken and flour off the bottom. Cook a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Next add the chicken stock. Continue to cook, reducing the liquid to about 1/2 cup. Add the lemon juice. Now turn the heat to low, and add the cold butter and continue to whisk. Add the parsley and capers. Return the chicken to the sauce to heat and serve chicken at once with sauce on top.

About ProStart

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow's industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. By bringing industry and the classroom together, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. It all happens through a curriculum that teaches all facets of the restaurant and foodservice industry, inspires students to succeed and sets a high standard of excellence for students and the industry. With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and state restaurant associations, ProStart reaches 90,000 students nationwide. For more information on the ProStart program, visit www.prostart.restaurant.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.


As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) enhances the restaurant industry's service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees, making it one of the nation's largest employers. The NRAEF is focused on working with the Association to lead America's restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation by providing the valuable tools and resources needed to educate our current and incoming employees. For more information on the NRAEF, visit www.nraef.org.