Cypress Student on Culinary Knockout Competition Winning Team

Student Cagla Bazley with winner's championship

Although Cagla Bazley hadn’t planned to enter a recent cooking competition, she wound up joining the winning team. Four current and past Cypress College students in total competed this fall in Downey in the three-round elimination-style SoCalGas Culinary Knockout Competition, in partnership with the California Assisted Living Association, for up to $1,500 in cash prizes.

Teams comprised two culinary students paired with a seasoned Senior Living Chef. Prizes included a culinary knife-kit and a distinguished chef’s coat and championship belt, along with cash prizes for the top three teams’ student competitors. Current Hotel, Restaurant, Culinary Arts students Alex Apodaca and Cristina Olvera, along with recent alum Ricardo Ledesma, entered the competition through the application process.

Culinary Arts Students hold plates in a competition

Students from the Culinary Fundamentals I class took a field trip to attend the event and support their peers. Before the competition began, SoCalGas representatives approached the Culinary I students to find one more student to participate. Cagla volunteered to compete. 

In the first round, the 10 teams had to create a plant-based appetizer in 45 minutes. Cagla and her team won the round with their kale salad, which allowed them to compete in Round 2 with five other teams. 

In the second round, participants were given one hour to create a composed entree (entree and side dishes on one plate). Cagla and her team created a roasted rack of lamb with turnip puree and apple glaze, impressing the judges and advancing the team to the third and final round with two other teams. 

Cagla with winning chef

The chefs had submitted their “signature dishes” before the competition began, and were challenged to make them for the third round. Cagla’s chef, Bernardo BoyBoy, and his team prepared a pumpkin pudding, pumpkin spice whipped cream, and candied pumpkin seeds.

After careful deliberation, the judges deemed Chef Bernardo and team the winners of the Culinary Knockout competition. Prizes included a trophy and champion belt for the chef, and $1,500 cash prize for the students.