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Life Veenstra, Melyssa Krutsche, and Karissa Lai Win Heated Cook-off Competitions at The Art Institute of Colorado

By: The Art Institutes

April 6, 2014

Twenty five aspiring chefs with a craving for culinary excellence put their kitchen skills to the test as they competed for tuition scholarships on Saturday, March 8, at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado. At the end of the day, three stood triumphant.

Life Veenstra from Labette County High School in Altamount, KS took a gold medal and first place and Melyssa Krusche from Columbine High School, Littleton CO 80123 took a silver medal and second in The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Competition for high school seniors. Karissa Lai from Lakewood, CO 80226 placed first – and was awarded a gold medal – in The Art Institutes Culinary Scholarship Competition.

During the cook-off competition, the finalists were asked to showcase their talent and skill by preparing and serving a two-course meal in just two hours. The meal consisted of an appetizer of Shrimp Cocktail and an entrée of Sautéed Chicken Breast with Creative Garnish, Rice Pilaf and Broccoli Sauté.

Competitors were judged on five technical skills including knife skills, safety, sanitation, organization, cooking techniques, and clean-up, and five qualities of the finished dishes – temperature, taste, texture, portion size and presentation.

Veenstra was awarded a $4,000 tuition scholarship, Krutsche a $1,000 tuition scholarship and Lai a $1,500 tuition scholarship to The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado. In addition, the first place winners in both categories will move on to be considered for a Chopped-style cooking competition in New York in April. The winner of that competition will receive a $40,000 tuition scholarship.

Winners’ Quotes:

Life Veenstra: “[Living in a ] small town gives me a slight disadvantage [regarding] the creativity I have about food. This scholarship would let me become closer to expressing my creativity.”

Melyssa Krustsche: “I know I can become a chef, and I know this is what I want to do, and I know how important it is to me.”

Karissa Lai: “I prepare meals mostly for my husband, friends, and family. I’m self taught through The Food Network. I first learned [by making] pastas, sauces, and cakes.”

Cook-off competitions were held at all participating International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes locations across the U.S. and Canada in March. In addition to earning their scholarship awards, all local Best Teen Chef first place winners will have the opportunity to win a trip to New York City for a very special food experience.

For more information, visit or contact The Art Institute of Colorado at 303-824-4822.

The Art Institute of Colorado

The Art Institute of Colorado is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. The Art Institute of Colorado, 1200 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO 80203-2172. ©2014 The Art Institutes International LLC.

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By: The Art Institutes

April 6, 2014