Greyhounds cook up winning recipes

Naugatuck culinary students Kristina Lintgeris, left, took gold and Jonathan Haylett took silver at a cake decorating competition March 22 at Manchester Community College

For Naugatuck High School senior Kristina Lintgeris, winning gold was just icing on the cake.

Lintgeris’ bright pink birthday cake earned her top points at a culinary competition

She competed against about 11 other culinary students, including fellow Greyhounds Jonathan Haylett and Cassie DeMaio, who each took silver.

Competitors had 25 minutes to decorate the cake.

“It was really intense,” Lintgeris said.

All the cakes had to have a rose, a leaf, a shell border and writing.

“I think there were a lot better cakes than mine there,” Lintgeris said. She said other people had three layer cakes.

Still, something must’ve caught the judges’ eyes. One judge said they liked the color of her cake, Lintgeris said, “That was it.”

Lintgeris said once she got going, she felt like she was just in a normal kitchen, with the pressure amped way up.

“The judge’s coming around and not saying anything was the worst,” Lintgeris said.

Cake decorating was just one of the competitions Naugatuck culinary arts students excelled in over the past month.

Juniors Anthony Orsini, Adam Sara and Kevin Tousignant won gold medals for “garde manger” during the same competition.

Naugatuck High School students, from left, Johnathan Silva, Mike Kuczenski, and Brandon Burgos worked together to win silver for food service in a recent culinary competition. The students were among several Greyhounds who competed in a cooking competition recently.

The team had one hour to artistically prepare two fruit and vegetable platters.

“We all loved it,” Sara said. “It was a good experience.”

Seniors Brandon Burgos, Mike Kuczenski and Jonathan Silva won silver medals in a separate culinary competition for food service March 19 at Lincoln Culinary Institute in Hartford.

“We practiced all week during CAPT week,” Silva said.

The team received three menus to practice, but they didn’t know which one they would have to make for the competition.

They ended up preparing chicken scampi with lemon basil pasta and strawberry papaya salad.

“There were a lot of possibilities,” Silva said.

Silva said that time management was the most difficult part. The team had an hour and 15 minutes to cook and prepare the whole meal.

“It was really stressful,” Silva said.

They competed against 14 other teams.

The team was judged on everything from the meal’s presentation and consistency of the cutting to their clothing and time management.

Judges watched their every move.

“It was difficult to concentrate,” Silva said.

After the competition, the team said they were worried that they hadn’t performed well, but in the end, they captured a silver medal.
“When we got there, we were all fine, but I think once we got to the kitchen, that’s when we all started stressing out and getting nervous,” Kuczenski said.

Two of the team members had been in class together all year, but the third was added recently.

“We had to get used to everyone, how we work differently,” Kuczenski said.

Still, Silva said, he was glad they got to work as a team. At the competition last year, his team split up and he had to work with students from Crosby whom he’d never met before.

“We didn’t know how to communicate with each other,” Silva said.

Besides their love of culinary arts, all these students have one other thing in common – their teacher Diane Dorherty, who recently won the Teacher of the Year award from the Naugatuck Exchange Club.

“The food service competition was very intense this year. I think maybe it made them nervous. But, other than that, I thought they did a good job. They were professional and I think it worked out great,” Dorherty said.

All three boys said they love cooking, and two of them hope to make a career out of it.

Silva and Burgos have been accepted into the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. Sara applied to the Culinary Institute of America.

“I have a lot of kids who are interested in going to culinary school and sometimes they come down here and it spikes their interest, which is a good thing. At least it gives them their career,” Dorherty said.

Doherty said she’s proud of her students.

“I always find it to be a good experience if the can take what they’ve learned here, you know, to a different place,” she said.