Renton Technical College culinary students achieved top honors at this year’s Bite of the Apprentice, earning praises from the celebrity judges and over 600 guests who attended the competition April 8 at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.
“We've done it for many years," said RTC Executive Chef, Tony Parker, "To have the competition and to get students and young culinarians involved where they feel that pressure is very important because without that you don't get better.”
Parker added that the competition is a great way for industry leaders to see up and coming talent in a high stakes setting.
Celebrity guest judges included internationally renowned chef, Tom Douglas, Master Chef, Rolan Henin, James Beard Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson from The Lakehouse, and Seattle Seahawks offensive guard, Jordan Simmons.
"One of the hardest things about our business right now is finding these talented young people that want to work hard in our restaurants," said Tom Douglas, Chef, and owner of several Seattle restaurants. "If you look at how many restaurants are opening around our city and around our region I think this is the perfect place to get your start."
In recent years, the annual competition has been hosted on the RTC campus, but the popularity of the event with food fans and culinary arts programs in the region, forced sponsors, the Washington State Chefs Association, to move the event to a bigger venue.
Over 20 teams competed for top recognition from the judges and a “peoples’ choice” award.
Donor gifts from the RTC Foundation’s Celebrity Chef Dinner with Tom Douglas, supported the student’s efforts with grants for supplies, competition fees, and professional uniforms – all valuable to the students’ professional development and training.
Without Foundation support, these competition costs are out-of-pocket for students and can run several hundreds of dollars. The exposure to top chefs, the teamwork skills, working in a competitive, high pressure environment, all provide invaluable training opportunities for students.