Aspiring Chefs Compete in Monroe’s “America’s Best High School Chef” Competition

The sweet smell of success was in the air on March 5th as high school students from across the region – and as far away as Arizona – took over the Culinary Arts Center on the New Rochelle campus for our “America’s Best High School Chef” (ABHSC) competition.

This popular annual event, which has a culinary and pastry track, attracts a talented group of future chefs and pâtissiers, each one eager to demonstrate their skills and hopefully win a generous scholarship to attend Monroe’s Culinary Institute of New York (CINY) after high school graduation.

This year’s competitors were extraordinarily talented. All who participated impressed the judges with their creativity, knowledge, and undeniable skills. CINY’s accomplished faculty, led by Dean Frank Costantino, served as the judging panel.

Congratulations to this year’s top winners! Our first place winners -- Melina Sosa-Franco (culinary track) from Food and Finance High School and Vanessa Ruiz (pastry track) from East Valley Institute of Technology – each won FULL scholarships to continue their education at Monroe. The second and third place winners each won partial scholarships.

Culinary Track

   First place:  Melina Sosa-Franco (Food and Finance High School)

Second place:  Humza Hussain (Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Milliken Technical Center)

Third place:  Tatiana Torres (Nassau BOCES, Joseph M. Barry Career & Technical Education Center)

Pastry Track

   First place:  Vanessa Ruiz (East Valley Institute of Technology)

   Second place:  Andrea Castillo (Food and Finance High School)

The culinary track of the ABHSC competition has multiple rounds. Participants start by demonstrating their core food preparation competencies in the Basic Skills Round. Students receiving the highest overall scores then progress to the semi-final Salad Basket Round, during which students must prepare a creative salad dish using a list of assigned ingredients. The top students from that round then move on to the Mystery Basket Round, requiring them to prepare two identical servings of an entrée of their comprised solely of the ingredients designated by the judges. The winner of that round earns the title of “America’s Best High School Chef” title and a full academic scholarship to attend Monroe.

The pastry track follows a different format. Interested students must first submit their signature dessert recipe in hopes of a coveted invitation to compete. The dish must  include five key components: the main item, a sauce, a cookie or crisp item, chocolate, and fruit. During the contest, six invited participants then prepare two portions of their upscale, restaurant-quality dessert within a 60-minute timeframe. The winner of that round earns the title of “America’s Best High School Pastry Chef” title and a full academic scholarship to attend Monroe.

This is the 13th year that the College hosted its “America’s Best High School Chef” competition. First introduced in 2008, the event was on hiatus in 2020 and held virtually last year.

Interested in participating next year?  Reach out to Dean Frank Costantino for more information at