Gwinnett County

Gwinnett culinary students named state’s top chefs looking to take their talents national

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Litzy Hernandez has been wielding utensils most of her life.

“Maybe three years old. Making tortillas with my mom with my little tortilla maker,” Hernandez said. These days, the Berkmar High School senior in Lilburn and three of her classmates have gone gourmet.

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“Sesame seeded crusted tuna. Spinach and parmesan stuffed duck; and then we had a mousse,” student chef Zeke Galindo said.

That is the menu the school’s culinary team whipped up at the state championship. Kind of like those restaurant reality shows without all the screaming.

“Well, let me tell you this, it is a lot of pressure,” Chef James Bryant said.

Chef Bryant is their teacher. In this business, if you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.


“I get so nervous I can’t watch them,” the chef said.

Once the judges had a taste – first place.

“The dish was amazing. Phenomenal. There is not a lot of words to explain it. It is something you never forget,” Galindo said.

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Hernandez says cooking might be her calling.

“I love it! I do. Once I started doing it, it was something on which I was extremely focused. Very confident. Something I really, really enjoy doing,” she said.

Now, the team moves on to a national cookoff in Washington, D.C. in May. They will be up against 80 teams of the best student chefs from all over the country. They have started a GoFundMe to help cover the trip. Check it out here.