Hospitality & Culinary Student Competition
Posted on 01/24/2020

pork chopsThe aroma of warm, maple-glazed pork chops floated through the halls of the Orlando World Center Marriott Convention Center as Wekiva High School students drizzled fruit chutney over their gourmet meal for the Central Florida Hospitality & Culinary Competition on Jan. 23.

More than 300 local high school students flaunted their flair for the hospitality and culinary arts by competing in contests that included preparing proposals for banquet events, creating creative marketing campaigns and arranging edible centerpieces.

Organized by Orange County Public Schools Career & Technical Education and the Central Florida NAF Hospitality & Tourism Advisory Board, the annual Hospitality & Culinary Competition prepares students for high-paying careers in tourism, the region’s largest workforce.

“One of the things we strive to do is give students real-world, practical experiences, and that is exactly what’s happening here,” said Shannon Latimer, NAF district coordinator with Orange County Public Schools.

Nearly 50 chefs and industry professionals from Disney, Universal, Loews Hotels, Hilton, Darden, Johnson & Wales, UCF Rosen College, Valencia College, Visit Orlando and more judged the competition.

“A starch, a protein and vegetables are put in front of [the students] and they create the most amazing things,” said Chef Christine Whitlow from Winter Park High School.

Participating schools included: Colonial, Cypress Creek, Freedom, Jones, Oak Ridge, Ocoee, University, Wekiva, Windermere and Winter Park, as well as Orange Technical College dual enrollment students.

Schools that took home first place for each category are:

ProStart Prep: Wekiva High School

Gourmet Meal, Orange Technical College: University High School

Gourmet Meal, High School: Wekiva High School

Dessert, Orange Technical College: University High School

culinary student

Dessert, High School: Winter Park High School

Edible Centerpiece: Orange Technical College, Mid-Florida

Knife Skills: Wekiva High School

Waiters Relay: Colonial High School

Decorative Centerpiece: Windermere High School

Overall Hospitality Competition: Windermere High School

Marketing Competition: Winter Park High School

Guest Services: Freedom High School

Event Project: Winter Park High School

Quiz Cup: Orange Technical College, Mid-Florida


NAF is a network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready. NAF transforms the high school experience through an educational design that includes industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals, culminating in a paid internship. NAF academies fit within and enhance school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at a low cost. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences.