March 12, 2018

The Happenings of the 2018 Mystery Basket Challenge

Great Grandson of Auguste Escoffier Attends Austin Culinary School Competition

Michel Escoffier and celebrated local culinarians gathered for the institution’s largest Mystery Basket Challenge to date

For the fifth year in a row, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts hosted its annual high school cooking contest, the Mystery Basket Challenge. Students from all over Texas flooded in to the Austin culinary school campus to compete for scholarships and prizes, with a total of 45 sponsored teams from 30 schools. Michel Escoffier, the great grandson of renowned chef Auguste Escoffier, was in attendance from France as a special guest and surprise judge.

Of the nearly 50 competing teams, six were finalists, winning a total of $21,000 in scholarships toward an Escoffier education as well as prizes. The winning teams were: Georgetown High School of Georgetown, Texas (1st Place); El Campo High School of El Campo, Texas (2nd Place); Foster High School of Richmond, Texas (3rd Place); Brazoswood High School of Clute, Texas (4th Place); Cedar Park High School of Cedar Park, Texas (5th Place); and North Shore Senior High School of Houston, Texas (6th Place).

This year’s mystery ingredients included strip loin contributed by the Texas Beef Council, hibiscus flowers and celeriac. Teams were given an hour to assemble dishes that were judged on a number of factors including taste, texture and presentation.

Michel Escoffier signed autographs for the competition participants.

Michel Escoffier signed autographs for the competition participants.

The competition’s judge panel included a number of distinguished members of ­local and international culinary recognition including Christian Apetz, Executive Chef at the Driskill Hotel in Austin; Kitty Crider, Food Editor for the Austin American-Statesman and James Beard Award winner; Gene and Eileen Niswander, owners of Yegua Creek Farm and Escoffier Schools Farm-To-Table® partners; Michel Escoffier and a number of culinary school instructors.

In addition to the contest, students were able to keep busy during the all-day affair with a number of extracurricular activities such as culinary-focused demonstrations of fruit carvings and hog fabrication, games, and more.

This was the fifth year the culinary school hosted the Mystery Basket Challenge, the largest high school cooking competition hosted by an institution in the Austin area.

Escoffier students prepared food for the competing high schools to enjoy.

Escoffier students prepared food for the competing high schools to enjoy.

Students were given an hour to prepare dishes with hibiscus flowers, celeriac and sirloin tip steak.

Students were given an hour to prepare dishes with hibiscus flowers, celeriac and sirloin tip steak.

This was the 5th Mystery basket Challenge the school hosted.

This was the 5th Mystery basket Challenge the school hosted.