December 7, 2021


The accomplished food makers

A-B Tech culinary team heads to national competition in Orlando

3 min read

Some meals take months to plan. 

That’s been the case for five A-B Tech students who have spent five months chalking out a four-course meal to take to the National American Culinary Federation competition in Orlando on Aug. 2-5.

“We’ve all put in the time and the work to get to where we are and to be able to go to a national stage,” team captain Josh Waters said. “We know that we’re all going to put forth our best effort.” 

Waters, Michael Welsh, Emmer Moraza, Patricia Santibañez and Roman Nourse, who are at various stages of A-B Tech’s two-year culinary program, are the school’s 12th team to make it to the cooking competition. No other culinary programs in the country have made it to the competition that many times, A-B Tech spokesperson Kerri Glover said.

A-B Tech won the competition in 2007.

Though the official meal planning began only a few months ago, the students have been brainstorming the meal for more than a year.

The national competition was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so some of the members of last year’s team, such as Welsh, stayed on this year and carried over ideas. 

“We kind of picked some pieces from (last year’s) plate and brought it over,” Welsh said.

Patricia Santibañez adds finishing touches to a dessert as she rehearses for the upcoming National American Culinary Federation competition July 20, 2021.

The students, who each work full-time jobs at restaurants throughout Asheville, such as Curate and Asheville Chocolate, will face off against six teams across the country for the national title. 

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They were chosen by instructor and chef Chris Bugher.

“With everything that’s happened over the past year, they’ve had to overcome more than any other team,” Bugher said. “It’s different because they haven’t competed before … so they’re walking into this doing it for the first time. They have more challenges ahead of them, but they’re well on their way.”

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