DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - A Diboll High School senior is fulfilling her culinary dreams as the winner of the Art Institutes Top Teen Chef award for the state of Texas' Best Teen Chef and Culinary Scholarship Competition.
The award is part of a national competition sponsored by the Food Network.
Courtney Shivers says she is no stranger to the kitchen. Two years ago, when the 17-year-old was only a sophomore at Diboll High School, she was the first underclassmen to join the school's culinary program.
"She was the youngest culinary student I had and she was the only sophomore I had. She was in a class full of juniors and seniors and I had her for Culinary Arts One and Culinary Arts Two and she's a model student. I really enjoyed having her," said Jennifer Garcia, the family consumer science teacher and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America advisor.
Shivers is now the recipient of the Houston Art Institute's first place Top Teen Chef award, a $4,000 scholarship and the state title.
"It was unreal. I don't know. I didn't expect them to call my name. It was weird," said Shivers.
Contestants had to apply for the competition and attend a workshop on February 23 where they were given two weeks to prepare the recipes for the March 9 competition.
"There were seven people competing and we had to create shrimp cocktail with a creative garnish. We had a cucumber and we had to make our own garnish and we had to make rice pilaf, sauteed broccoli and sauteed chicken with our own sauce," said Shivers.
The contestants had to prepare the dishes for a panel of judges who then scored the contestant's on presentation, creative use of ingredients and many other skills.
"It's a really big thing for me because I've always liked it and I never thought this would come true, but it is now," Shivers said.
Shivers isn't the only one excited about the opportunity.
"I'm so overwhelmed. I'm so excited and so proud. It's just hard to express the excitement and emotions. She's worked very hard," said Garcia.
Shivers has been cooking since she was a little girl and says it is her passion.
"I've cooked for a long time, as long as I can remember. I've always watched my grandma and grandpa, everybody in the kitchen. I always sat there and looked over the counter and they just started teaching me," Shivers said.
First place winners from Art Institutes all over the nation will have their name drawn on April 2. The winner will get a VIP tour of the Food Network and Cooking Channel Studios, Kitchens, and Facilities at Chelsea Market. They will also receive a dining experience at a Food Network Star's restaurant in New York City.
Shivers says she will be using her scholarship money to pay for tuition. She will start a year-and-a-half long culinary program at the Art Institute of Houston in the fall. But Shivers says she is planning on returning to the school after the program ends to study baking because her dream is to open a bakery.
"I want to do wedding cakes. I really like Cake Boss and how he does all that, so I wanted to do that. That's what I've always what I've been interested in," Shivers said.
For more information on the Best Teen Chef and Culinary Scholarship Competition visit, artinstitutes.edu