Rolling Pin owner, Chef Dave West, congratulates the Riverview High School team, Martin Gendron, Ryan Allers and Travis Gentiles. The  students were the winners of the Rolling Pin Emporium High School Iron Chef Competition.

Keeping with the popularity of Food Network’s television show, Iron Chef, Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium recently hosted Iron Chef-style competitions for Hillsborough County culinary students. In previous competitions, Durant High School edged out Tampa Bay Tech and Riverview High School defeated South County Career Center to find themselves competing in the culinary showdown of their lives.

The guest judges for the event were Chef Dave West, owner of Rolling Pin, Jeff Houck, food editor for the Tampa Tribune and Lynn Kessel, local food blogger. Each team had 30 minutes to prepare an appetizer, main dish and dessert, and then present their creations to the judges. The teams were scored based on presentation, taste and use of surprise ingredients: pears and carrots.

Peggy Voss, the culinary coach for Durant High School, was excited to see her students competing at this level. “They worked as a team to come up with their own recipes,” said Voss. “I told them that simple is always better.”

The Hillsborough County Supervisor for family and consumer services, Leanne Lester, was also attending the event. “There are more than 3,000 students in culinary programs throughout Hillsborough County,” said Lester. “Culinary has come so much further than home-economic classes offered years ago.”

The teams worked together quickly to whip up their artistic dishes such as tuna tartar, shrimp with carrot and ginger sauce and carrot cake pudding with candied carrots. But, in the end, Riverview High School was the team that reigned supreme.

The three Riverview students, Martin Gendron, Ryan Allers and Travis Gentiles, were thrilled with their victory and their school was awarded $1,200 worth of cooking merchandise. In addition to bragging rights, each team member won a professional chef knife. Rolling Pin also donated five percent of all store sales from school supporters purchases made during the event to the each school’s culinary program.

Rolling Pin Emporium offers  informative weekly cooking classes and demonstrations presented by celebrity chefs and local chefs. It also sells an array of cooking products, including quality cookware, professional cutlery and kitchen tools. 

The store is located at 2080 Badlands Dr. in Brandon. For more information, call 653-2418 or visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.