11 Teams, 22 Chefs, Eight Scholarships

September 23, 2018

Public Information Officer


One lineup change was announced today for high schools participating in the 2018 St. Philip’s College Best Tasting Salsa Scholarship Competition: 11th Anniversary Edition, a one-hour judged salsa specialty food contest where the prizes are scholarships to a world-class culinary school for two-person teams of local high school student chefs.

The 12 competing teams for 2018 originally announced Sept. 10 were from Warren, Edison, Memorial, South San, East Central, Poteet, Madison, O’Conner, LaVernia, Southside, Alamo Heights, Samuel Clemens and Taft high schools. Citing priorities, Warren withdrew its team entry, leaving a two-scholarship competition berth for a team to be announced, explained event organizer Frances Rocha, culinary services coordinator at the college who tracks team status. Rounding out the college’s Hispanic Heritage Month calendar, the 11-team competition takes place Oct. 4 at its second year in a new location---Room 202 of the college’s $11 million Turbon Student Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive.

When La Vernia, Taft, Whitehouse, Floresville, Clemons, Steele, Brandeis and East Central high schools participated in the college's signature Hispanic Heritage Month event in 2018, defending champion Brandies came in first, followed very closely by defending 2016 second place winner Taft, Whitehouse and defending People’s Choice Award recipient Taft.

By placing twice---second and people’s choice---defending 2016 and 2017 second place winner Taft established a record for most scholarship money awarded per student, “a cool $1,000 today,” college faculty member Chef Patrick Costello announced from the contest podium in 2017.

It’s never happened and it was awesome,” event organizer and college culinary services coordinator Frances Rocha said in confirmation in 2017. “One of the Taft student chefs was really interested in attending St. Philip’s College, so it really worked out in his favor. Future students, that’s what it was about,” Rocha said in 2017.

All are welcome to taste-test during the free St. Philip’s College Best Tasting Salsa Scholarship Competition. The 22 competing chefs are both high school seniors and they are interested in attending St. Philip’s College. The food is from a region where both family and commercial traditions of salsa making extend centuries deep, and new generations create the authentic salsas of the future during the contest. The college’s event is education oriented, open to all and features a mix of college and local chefs as judges. All salsas are entirely prepared in labs at the St. Philip’s College campus on competition day, and students must be in competitive condition---with no distractions---to produce the excellence expected by judges, chef coaches and foodies, said Rocha. Although the contest conditions have not been announced for 2018, traditionally the intensive contestant preparation time begins at 10 a.m. and table set up from 11-11:20 a.m. precedes the judging and public viewing and sampling that occurs at 12:15 a.m. In the contest area, teams of chefs are judged on presentation, originality, creativity, salsa taste and salsa texture. Scholarship announcements are made for each team member finishing first ($500), second ($500), third ($500) and People’s Choice Award ($500). The public is welcome to visit, taste, cast People’s Choice votes and meet the chefs. The event is typical of the college's engagement with high schoolers in the hospitality professions throughout the year, highlighting the career potential that competition affords future chefs, explained Rocha, who added that at least three contest alumni are current students at the college.

“It’s hard to believe we started this program in 2007,” Rocha said. “With 11 high school teams in the field for our 11th anniversary program, salsa fans will taste quite a bit more salsa in 2018. We decided to move the competition to the new building so that our prospective students and the public can see their future college in a whole new way that I am sure they will love, based on feedback from 2017,” Rocha said with a smile.

For details on the contest, contact Rocha at 210-486–2318, frocha@alamo.edu.