The 21st annual Walnut Hill College Chocolate Competition took place on Saturday, April 29, with 16 aspiring bakers vying for the chance to win scholarships to attend the hospitality college. The talented competitors were all juniors and seniors hailing from high schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware.
For many of the students, the competition began before they stepped foot in the kitchens of the University City campus. Earning a spot in Saturday’s bake-off required them to go head to head against peers at their own high school, showcasing their pastry prowess and bringing them one step closer to a coveted scholarship award. Once accepted into the Walnut Hill College competition, all of the students were tasked with baking a chocolate cake at home prior to the big event. What set each cake apart was the extraordinary design work that each student put into their confection on competition day. Whether they chose to make a simple but elegant cake or go all out with a multi-colored, multi-layered masterpiece, the students were encouraged to be creative.
Students competed in either the high school division or the vocational-technical division (for those who attend schools with specialized training in baking and pastry arts). In the end, six exceptional students won scholarships to attend Walnut Hill College. From the high school division, 1st place was awarded to Victoria B. from Hamilton, NJ, representing Hamilton High School West in Trenton, NJ; 2nd place to Jordyn F. from Yeadon, PA, representing Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, PA; and 3rd place to Madison H. from Honey Brook, PA, representing Twin Valley High School in Elverson, PA. And in the vo-tech division, 1st place went to Danielle S. from Willingboro, NJ, representing Burlington County Institute of Technology in Westampton, NJ; 2nd place to Jacob W. from Elkton, MD, representing Rising Sun High School in North East, MD; and 3rd place to Noah B. from Levittown, PA, representing Bucks County Technical High School in Fairless Hills, PA. Both divisions awarded scholarships for $6,000 (1st place), $3,000 (2nd place), and $1,800 (3rd place). The high school of the 1st place winner in both divisions also won $500 for its Family and Consumer Science Department or Culinary Arts Program.
Judging this year’s Chocolate Competition were Sam Nahhas, Executive Chef at Normandy Farm and the American Culinary Federation’s 2015 Pastry Chef of the Year, Angela Sticco, Walnut Hill College alumna and Head Chocolatier at John and Kira’s, Chris Berardi, Director of Culinary Compliance at Nutrition Management Services Company, and Gunther Heiland, Certified Master Pastry Chef and Fellow of the American Academy of Chefs. Additionally, guests of the competitors were treated to a special cooking demonstration by Christina Pirello, a beloved chef instructor at Walnut Hill College as well as a TV host and cookbook author.