Student Finalist in National Culinary Competition Needs Votes
With just a few clicks of a mouse, community members (and their friends and family anywhere) can help a young chef win a scholarship and a trip of a lifetime to Italy to study culinary arts.
Shanelis Villanueva, a senior in the Eastside High School Institute of Culinary Arts, is one of three finalists in the national “Cocinando un Sueño” contest sponsored by the Olive Garden and aimed at promoting culinary arts in the Hispanic community. To qualify, Villanueva had to submit a video that shows her preparing a dish and discussing what she’s doing in Spanish. More than 700 videos were submitted, and Villanueva was the only high school student to make it as a finalist.
“I almost didn’t believe it at first,” said Villanueva. “I was shocked, but I was thrilled too.”
Villanueva now has a chance to win a $10,000 culinary scholarship and a trip to Italy to visit the Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany and other sites in both Tuscany and Rome. But she needs to have the highest number of online votes to win.
Through March 4, anyone can vote at the competition Facebook page at http://facebook.com/CocinandoUnSueno. The page is in Spanish, but even the non-bilingual can vote by following a few simple instructions. After getting to the official Facebook page, people can click on the button that says ‘Mira los Videos y Vota,’ (Watch the Videos and Vote). They will then see photos of all three finalists, with Shanelis in the middle. They would then click on the button that says ‘Mira el Video’ (Watch the Video) under her photo, then click on the button saying ‘Votar’ (Vote). Visitors to the site can vote once a day, every day through Sunday the 4th. They do need to be registered on Facebook. The results will be announced on March 5.
A win in the overall competition would help Villanueva achieve her dream of attending the prestigious Johnson and Wales University for culinary arts and open her own restaurant with her brother, who also attended the Eastside culinary arts program.
Chef Billie DeNunzio, director of the program, says Villanueva definitely has what it takes to be successful in the business.
“She’s a leader,” said DeNunzio. “She has the perfect personality for the field. She can fix things, she can pull people together, she can talk with anyone, and she has the talent for cooking.”
Villanueva says she loves the creative side of culinary arts.
“I like being able to express myself through cooking,” she said. “I can put my personality in my food, that’s the fun part.”
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