Bloomingdale High student chef hopes to cook up top prize

By Trevor Pettiford, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017, 9:57 AM EDT

A Bloomingdale High student is cooking up a possible state crown. 

  • Bloomingdale junior Gianna Ribera competing in high school cooking competition 
  • Her specialty: Citrus chicken tacos with watermelon salsa
  • Statewide competition hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture

Bloomingdale junior Gianna Ribera is competing in a statewide culinary competition this weekend. The competition is being hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture.  

Ribera said her flair for cooking comes from her family. 

"Well, I've really cooked my whole life," Ribera said. "Cooking's really big in my family. It really means a lot to us."

She is one of five regional finalists in the competition. And she is making something special in the finals. 

Using ingredients grown in Florida, Ribera is whipping up citrus chicken tacos with watermelon salsa. She even got a passing grade on the dish before the competition from her toughest critic. 

"And I made sure I ate it at home first and cooked it at home," Ribera said. "I have a 3-year-old baby brother and he's extremely picky. And if he will eat it, I know anybody will." 

Bloomingdale Culinary Instructor Rene Marquis said his star pupil is a great student and cook. 

"What GG's making is a home run," Marquis said. "Everybody loves tacos and everybody loves watermelon because watermelon is refreshing."

 And regardless of the outcome of the competition, Ribera says she has found a future. 

"I practiced everyday," Ribera said. "I'm really dedicated to it and once I got into the competition, I just felt like it was meant to be."