Our final day brought the first ever NCCS Breakfast Challenge. The Waffle Tacos and The Fearless Forks were facing off as they prepared breakfast for our faculty and staff. This week these young chefs learned the importance of behind the scenes prep work. Christian, T.J., Madelyn, and Mark arrived bright and early at 6:00 am. The others arrived shortly after them. The staff dining room was immediately buzzing with activity as they began decorating their tables so they would be ready to start their food. Each team created a menu and assigned various responsibilities to their team members. Communication and team work was an important part to the success of this event. With the clock ticking, the chefs began their jobs.
The Fearless Forks planned a Hawaiian theme to get everyone in the mood for spring break. Madelyn created two amazing smoothies – Very Berry and Mango Tango. These cool, sweet drinks were topped with colorful straws and bright umbrellas. Ashley mixed up some cheesy eggs that were perfectly cooked. Melissa prepared some bacon cups and a sweet cinnamon vanilla syrup. Phillip and T.J. worked diligently on the chooolate chip waffle skewers with strawberries and bananas. The sweet taste of milk chocolate was a nice addition to the fruit. The skewers were displayed coming out of a pineapple making it very eye-catching. The Fearless Forks table was full of color flowers, leis, and creativity!
Across the room, The Waffle Tacos were displaying an Americana theme. The traditional red, white, blue was seen on their patriotic table. Christian showed off his amazing knife skills as he cut all the fruit, creating beautiful skewers filled with cantaloupe, strawberries, and grapes. Mark made some flavorful bacon candy that had people asking for this recipe. He also created a warm maple blueberry syrup to accompany Eden’s perfect silver dollar pancakes. Nykilah cooked 40+ over medium eggs as she dropped them into a honey wheat bread to create “birds in a nest”. Orange juice and sweet tea accompanied this breakfast. The Waffle Tacos captured a delicious taste element in their food!
Beginning at 7:15 am, over 60 faculty and staff came through their serving lines. Excitement was in the air as the chefs described their dishes trying to earn the votes. We challenged the faculty and staff to judge the food based taste, presentation, creativity. They were given 6 tickets, allowing them to divide their votes or even give them all to one team. The chefs cooked and served nonstop for a solid hour. The delicious smells permeated the halls of the school. Both teams did an AMAZING job! We were so proud of all their hard work! After cleaning up the staff dining room, food, and dishes, the tickets were counted. It was very close, but in the end The Fearless Forks prevailed and took the NCCS breakfast challenge win.
It felt like we had been up for hours, but we still had a full day ahead of us. We made a quick stop at Starbucks to give us a little boost of energy for our day ahead at The Mill Restaurant in Roswell. Executive Chef, Benjamin Castro, who is Mrs. Poplin’s Uncle, provided an incredible experience for us. Chef Castro began by giving us a tour of the Front House of the restaurant. The front of house is where the interaction takes place between the servers, hosts and guests. This tour included the fascinating history of the restaurant and the building. The Mill is a farm to table restaurant, so everything is fresh grown and bought locally. They are also considered a “green” restaurant, which is an asset for our environment. We learned that there is a Back House to every restaurant. The Back of the House includes the walk in freezer, walk in fridge, dry storage, prep kitchen, hot line, cold line, garnishing line, and pastry room. It is amazing to see the small space that these chefs work in as they produce 250-300 dishes every night.
After the walking tour, we headed upstairs to learn more. Chef Castro share his culinary experience and we had the opportunity to ask questions. We enjoyed tasting some of their fabulous appetizers comprised of Pimento Cheese Fritters, Deviled Eggs, and Black Eye Pea Hummus served with Pita Bread. Following our taste testing, we enjoyed a delicious lunch that we did not have to cook ourselves! The owner, Randy McCray, came to see us and talked about the business end of owning a business. He shared three keys for a successful restaurant. These include strong leadership in both the Back and Front of House, the right location, and customer service. Together, these three elements will make or break a restaurant. We learned that the failure rate of restaurants is 97%.
We ended with a cooking demonstration. Chef Castro showed us his terrific knife skills as he cut apart a full chicken into pieces in less than one minute. He did it a second time and slowly showed us how to correctly cut a full chicken. Mrs. Poplin and I have continued to learn new cooking skills ALL week!
After this busy day, we headed back to school feeling accomplished as we were able to take apply our new skills to serve others. We have been reminded to “Taste and See” both in the kitchen and in our spiritual lives. God has great plans for these young chefs and we can’t wait to see how they use their gifts and talents to honor and glorify the Kingdom of God!