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      Studens sharpen skills at Iron Chef competition

      Teams of six competed in Indian Hills' Iron Chef competition.

      High school students put their skills to the test at the Iron Chef competition.

      Six teams of six students went head-to-head in the kitchen Friday morning at Indian Hills.

      The teams were responsible for creating an appetizer, entree and dessert. The meals had to include local produce.

      The event is competitive and exciting and gives students a taste of a future in the culinary arts.

      "They're able to utilize equipment that they haven't seen before and really decide if this is something they want to do," said Marjorie Beckman, Culinary Arts Instructor at Mount Pleasant High School.

      Mary Smith, the Culinary Arts Instructor at Burlington High School, said working in a commercial kitchen is like cooking on steroids; everything is bigger and faster.

      "It gives them a chance to really be stressed and stress helps you learn," Smith said. "I don't mean stress necessarily in a bad way, but just to get the idea of what's going on and the excitement of it and gets them to want to continue."

      At Ottumwa High School, students in the culinary entrepreneurial opportunities class cook for the Bulldog Cafe one a week. Competing at Iron Chef is an opportunity for them to expand on that experience.

      "We're so fortunate to have Indian Hills in our backyard and Chef Gordon has done a great job promoting and really building the program of culinary arts and all of his team," said Debb Kent, OHS Family and Consumer Sciences teacher. "And this is a way for my students to come in and experience what the kitchen at Indian Hills and the culinary program is all about."

      Beckman's team from Mount Pleasant created a gluten-free menu and in the end, took home first place. The team from Eddyville-Blakesburg-Freemont took second.