Marukan’s fifth annual culinary arts competition welcomes high school contestants


Elizabeth Corcoles

An excited Erick Villa places in first place at the Marukan Cup of Culinary Arts of Excellence competition. The competition was held on Oct. 19.

Elizabeth Corcoles, Arts & Entertainment Editor

High school contestants were given the chance to compete with current Cerritos College students in the Culinary Arts program and alumni of the program for the first time at the Marukan Cup of Culinary Excellence on Oct. 19. While the categories were judged by division, the prizes remained the same.

Chef Michael Pierini was pleased with the incorporation of local high school students, stating, “By adding the high school competition, it really brought it to a whole [other] level that we’re very happy with.”

The extravaganza lasted from 8:30 a.m to 2 p.m. and gave contestants the chance to mingle with sponsors and benefactors that support the Cerritos College Culinary Arts program.

The first place winner received a $1,000 prize with their name engraved on the Marukan Cup, while the second place and third place prize winners received $500 and $250 respectively.

Contestants were given 60 minutes to prepare, complete and plate their dish.

All of the contestants were given the same guideline for their plates, which included a four plated main entree that incorporated a protein, starch, vegetable and sauces.

Jon Tanklange hosted the event and also in attendance were Pierini, experienced panelists and chefs, Eric Duchene, Bill Orton, Adam Crisafulli and Austin Yancey, who judged and critiqued the contestants dishes.

As contestant after contestant went onstage to explain their dish to the judges, Yancey displayed much interest in critiquing and giving advice to the contestants.

As Osvaldo Galaz, high school contestant from Paramount High School, received critique from the judges, but also received praise.

A nervous Galaz explained his dish to the judges, describing his chicken plate with fries as a side; Yancey called his dish “beautiful” and his chicken “perfect.”

Receiving minor critiques on his fries, Galaz walked away with high praise from the judges.

As the day continued, the competitors had a one-on-one with the judges and were given “private critiques to advise the chefs on how they can improve and incorporate their creativity and get better from here,” Tanklange said.

As the day wrapped up, Tanklange and Pierini took the stage and called up the contestants to announce the winners.

Osvaldo Galaz took first place in the high school category, Adriana Barajas came in second place and Trinity Head took third place.

As this was Galaz’s fourth competition, he explained that he was selected to participate because no one in his class took interest and the competition was “for fun” and to see where it would take him.

Head explains she was selected by her advisor through a night competition held within her school, and although it was her first real competition, she hopes to place higher the next time around.

It was a winner take all in the Cerritos College Culinary Arts alumni category. Erick Villa went from not placing at last year’s event, to placing first.

Villa participated in last year’s Marukan’s culinary art competition and left empty handed. So following the critique and advice given last year Villa says, “They wanted to see more of a cooking technique, so this time I applied it to my dish.”

Alondra Zuniga took first place among those currently enrolled in the culinary arts program, while Nelson Zerallos came in second and Alicia Kampa came in third.