By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  It was a high-stakes cooking competition today at Drexel University among 20 area high schoolers.

It almost looked and sounded like the TV show “Chopped”:

“Five minutes left, please.  Five minutes!”

…except these budding chefs are competing for thousands of dollars in scholarships to culinary schools.

They get two hours to prepare a poached chicken dish and crêpes with strawberries.

The competition is sponsored by the nonprofit Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (“C-CAP”), which provides scholarships to at-risk students.

” ‘Chopped’ is great television — it’s sexy and everybody likes watching ‘Chopped,’ ” notes C-CAP president Susan Robbins, “but the students here are very focused.”

(Susan Robbins tastes a stident's dish.  Credit: Mike DeNardo)

(Susan Robbins tastes a student’s dish. Credit: Mike DeNardo)


Jonnathan Sekel, from the Delaware County Technical School, was one of those focused students.  “Two hours to make a poached chicken and a dessert is a lot of time,” he said with an air of calm.

The students are judged on safety, sanitation, knife skills,  presentation, and — of course — taste.

The scholarship winners will be announced next month.

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