SUMTER, S.C. — It’s a battle of the best pastry at Sumter Career and Technology Center. Culinary arts students are showing off their knowledge of baking and decorating with today’s Cupcake Wars.
"Kinda stressed, kinda overwhelmed, but I'm actually having a lot of fun," senior Madison Osborne said to describe the way she's feeling about the school's Cupcake Wars. She first heard about the culinary arts program when she was a freshman.
"Well I thought it was an art class at first 'cuz I was a dumb ninth grader," Osborne laughed. "Until I was like ‘You know what? This is actually kind of fun.’ I like to cook."
Now as a senior, she’s using the knowledge she’s gained to compete against her classmates. From baking to decorating and then plating, the students are tasked with creating three unique cupcakes in line with the theme: Candy Land. They even drew up plans for their displays, which were designed by students in intro to manufacturing class.
The students were put into teams of four to plan up and execute their ideas.
"My favorite part is we’re doing the Cupcake War together as a team," Zaybrianna Briggs shared.
Senior Jamal Whaley says this wouldn’t be possible without all the skills he’s picked up from the class.
"I learned a lot. I learned so much it is unbelievable," he shared. "It was a little hobby at first, you know, just trying something new when I had my free time back in quarantine just baking around the house just for fun. And then next thing you know I was like ‘Okay this is actually pretty fun and interesting.’ So I decided to take it more further to see how far I could go into baking and cooking in general."
According to Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Kia Smith, some of the curriculum involves learning about creaming methods, heat transfer and food preparation basics that are useful both for career and personal use.
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"The students are able to walk away with numerous certifications, numerous skills, and we just want to get them life–ready, college–ready, career–ready," Smith explained. "A lot of times you will have students who are just ‘I love to cook at home and I want to do more at home.’ And then as they go through the whole process, it turns into ‘I want to college for this."
For Smith, teaching this class and hosting the competition is a full circle moment.
"I actually am a product of the career center. I graduated from Sumter High School back in 2008, I took culinary arts in 2007-8," Smith said. "So it means so much to me to be able to come back in time to change up the curriculum, change up some of the things that we do."
The students had two hours to bake, decorate, and plate their creations, which were judged by a panel on best display, best taste, best decoration and best overall. The winners will be announced Friday.