La Quinta High School Chefs Create 'MaJic' at Miramonte Resort

Test culinary skills at 2014 National ProStart Invitational

Prepping in the kitchen at Miramonte Resort in Indian Wells are (from left) La Quinta High School Culinary Arts Institute students Adrian Valdez, Madison Rios, Jennifer Stasi, William Bockler and Cesar Acuna.

Photo by Laura Hunt Little


Give these teens a little elbow room, and look what happens.

New construction last summer took students at the La Quinta Culinary Arts Institute from working in a 900 square foot classroom to a brand new 12,000 square foot facility on campus with state-of-the-art appliances, demonstration kitchen and a dining room.

The difference in space is showing up in the food.

“The demonstration kitchen attracted more guest chefs who were able to provide one-on-one mentoring and the additional space in this larger kitchen enabled the team members to extend practice opportunities,” says Shari Tucker, La Quinta High School culinary arts instructor. “The team is in better shape overall because of the added value of our new facility.”

Five of Tucker’s young chefs have earned the chance to compete May 3-4 in the finals of the 2014 National ProStart Invitational in Minneapolis, a nationwide cooking competition featuring high schools from across the country. They advanced to nationals after winning the California ProStart Cup in March in Sacramento.

The culinary team of three juniors and two seniors call themselves “MaJic,” a name created from their initials, and consistent with the Moroccan theme of their competition meal and their magical enthusiasm. On the team are captain Jennifer Stasi and co-captain Cesar Acuna, both seniors; and juniors Maddie Rios, William Bockler, and Adrian Valdez.

While sponsors have underwritten a portion of the costs to compete in the national competition, the team still needs additional funds to cover expenses. To support the program and the students, Miramonte Resort & Spa recently hosted a “Grand Tasting” benefit dinner recently and raised $2,500.

“With the significance of the restaurant and hospitality industry in our community, it’s vital that we encourage our kids to pursue their dreams, and with this distinguished program, students are given a head start towards a rewarding culinary career,” says Jim Pedone, regional director, sales and marketing for Miramonte Resort & Spa.

Team MaJic, with the help of Miramonte’s culinary crew, prepared their three-course championship meal for 80 people. Their dinner featured Mussels Potage Marrakech as an appetizer, Moroccan Rockin’ Chicken for the main course (pictured above), and a dessert of Tangier Poached Pears.

In the kitchen, the kids prepared steamed mussels ,which were in a richly flavored carrot potage to which they added grated raw carrots for texture and flavor. The hearty appetizer came with a generous portion of six mussels per person.

The main course consisted of an airplane cut breast of chicken, rubbed with Harissa, grilled and topped with a pomegranate molasses syrup. The delicately flavored chicken breast was moist and tender, perfectly cooked, on a bed of saffron-infused cous-cous with chunks of braised butternut squash and fresh sautéed spinach.

Whole stem-in pears for the Tangier Poached Pears dessert (pictured at left) were dusted with roasted pistachios and carefully seated in a cinnamon caramel sauce with slices of blood orange and a sprig of mint. A bowl of orange blossom whipped cream accompanied the dessert, so guests could add as they wished.

To continue fund-raising efforts, the students have created their own date chutney and date syrup that they package and sell through Shields Date Garden.

For more information, contact La Quinta High School at 760-772-4150, ext. 152.

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

The Purple Palm Takes "Pride" in Crafted Cocktails

Palm Springs takes pride in many things, and with the approach of Pride Weekend, cocktails will be at the heart of the many parties and events.

Purple Room Restaurant and Stage Brings Top Entertainment to Town

Purple Room Restaurant and Stage has become Palm Springs’ entertainment center with amazing talent matched with a fun happy hour and great food.

Creative Mexican Cuisine Marks Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club's Reopening

New entertainment, special events, and a new executive chef in Ruben Galvez mark the reopening of Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club in South Palm Springs.

Imaginative Edge Marks New Chef at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

The newest restaurant by celebrity chef Kerry Simon, Simon Kitchen + Bar, just opened at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, bringing talented Executive Chef Jeremy Saccardi into the arena.

Lattes and Luaus

Jaime Kowal has partnered with architect Chris Pardo to open Ernest Coffee Co. and Bootlegger Tiki in north Palm Springs, paying homage to its 1950s heyday and owner Don the Beachcomber.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Edit ModuleShow Tags