Hosted at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin, the annual Mystery Basket Competition is one of the area’s largest high school culinary contests and draws participants from across East and Central Texas. In total, 60 teams from 37 high schools competed for prizes and nearly $20,000 in scholarships toward an Escoffier education.
Six teams were finalists: El Campo High School (1st Place); Dr. Kirk Lewis High School (2nd Place); Foster High School (3rd Place); W.H. Taft High School (4th Place); East View High School (5th Place); and Advanced Technology Complex (6th place).
Students were given a set amount of time to plan, create and plate a dish that included the secret ingredients not revealed until just before the competition. This year’s contestants had to make a beef tenderloin meal using marshmallows, peanut butter powder and buffalo mozzarella.
“The Mystery Basket Competition has become a staple in the Texas high school culinary community,” said Marcus McMellon, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts-Austin campus president. “We had more participants this year than we ever have before. It’s a true testament to the importance of this event and events like it.”
The dishes were judged by a panel including the culinary school’s instructors, a student, and renowned local chefs like Kim Carter, chef and kitchen manager of the Central Texas Food Bank, and Adrian Bruce, Escoffier alumni and executive sous chef at the Hotel Granduca.
When participants weren’t bringing the heat in the kitchen, the Austin culinary school offered games, an authentic Texas barbecue lunch prepared by instructors and students, as well as chef-led professional demonstrations including fruit carving and ice sculpting.
Where many of the participating schools were local, not all were, with some driving as far as five hours to compete. In the six years it’s been held, the Mystery Basket Competition has become a staple of the high school culinary community.
The full list of participating high schools is as follows:
- Brazoswood High School of Clute, Texas
- Corsicana High School of Corsicana, Texas
- Lockhart High School of Lockhart, Texas
- James Madison High School of San Antonio, Texas
- W.H. Taft High School of San Antonio, Texas
- Samuel Clemens High School of Schertz, Texas
- Christoval High School of Christoval, Texas
- Mount Pleasant High School of Texarkana, Texas
- Hutto High School of Hutto, Texas
- South San Antonio High School of San Antonio, Texas
- Burnet High School of Burnet, Texas
- Del Valle High School of Del Valle, Texas
- MacArthur High School of Irving, Texas
- Cedar Ridge High School of Round Rock, Texas
- East View High School of Georgetown, Texas
- Smithville Highschool of Smithville, Texas
- Deer Park High School of Deer Park, Texas
- Rockport High School of Rockport, Texas
- Dr. Kirk Lewis High School of Houston, Texas
- South Houston High School of Houston, Texas
- Foster High School of Houston, Texas
- L.E.E. High School of San Antonio, Texas
- College Station High School of College Station, Texas
- Liberty Hill High School of Liberty Hill, Texas
- La Vega High School of Waco, Texas
- Advance Technology Complex of Denton, Texas
- Hillsboro High School of Hillsboro, Texas
- John Jay High School of San Antonio, Texas
- Gatesville High School of Gatesville, Texas
- North Shore Senior High School of Houston, Texas
- Del Rio High School of Del Rio, Texas
- D’Hanis High School of D’Hanis, Texas
- Connally High School of Pflugerville, Texas