Santa Ana high school students celebrate national title at culinary competition

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The celebration continued for three students from Valley High School in Santa Ana.

The staff at Northgate Gonzalez Market welcomed Wendy Castanon, Miguel Hernandez and Fernanda Nevarez back from Washington D.C. as national champions.

"When it all hit me, I was so excited and really grateful for all the experiences," Nevarez said.

The trio beat out culinary teams from all over the country in the "Cooking Up Change" competition. The challenge is to create a fresh, healthy and delicious school menu.

The team chose an Asian theme with orange chicken and fried rice.

"Baked it, we steamed brown rice, instead of white rice," Castanon said. "Little to no oil and no salt."

For their win at a regional level, each team member received a $1,500 scholarship. But, more importantly for them, an opportunity to stress the need for healthier school lunches.

"Sometimes these school lunches are the only meal that a student gets so making them delicious and healthy is really important," Nevarez said.

This is the fifth national win for Valley High School and it's a success their instructor attributes to her students' hunger for progress.

"Their passion and their wanting to see a change for something, and they're so eager to learn and succeed," said Tiffany Heremans, the culinary instructor.
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