Mystery Basket

by Kate Djupe

One month after I started working in a professional kitchen for the first time, I drove to Hocking College to compete in a mystery basket competition. I pulled over two times because of nerves. I was a college student with no business competing against 22 culinary students. 

My memories of that competition are fuzzy. I didn't know what the vegetable in the basket was (turnips) and I plated my food 5 minutes early because I didn't know better; when someone tried to tell me that I could wait for my window, I tried to unplate my entree, warm it and replate it but realized it was a bad idea half way through and then undid my undoing.

See? Fuzzy.

I remember congratulating these strangers in culinary school whites as their names were called and awards presented and I distinctly remember staring at my sleeve and wondering why I was sticking around. I remember a boy named Trevor telling me it was real when my name was called as the second place winner. I remember feeling sick.

The "prize" for the competition was a spot on a 4 person Junior Hot Food team and winning this spot meant a ridiculous year of travelling and balancing.

(I'm the second boy on the left. Ha!)

Our team captain was Tricia (the boy in the middle - that joke never gets old). She scared me, challenged me, mocked me and made me laugh.

Our team won a lot until the time we didn't.

For an entire year, I spent more time with those four people (we had an alternate) than most people spend with their spouse and when we tied up all of the loose ends after that National competition, I never saw them again. I have no idea where they are or what they are doing.

Until now. I read this post about the Copper Skillet competition at NorthPointe and would you lookee there: Tricia. 10 years later.

I have to see this and since I won Bethia's competition for tickets, so will you.