SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Students from ten area high schools suited up and put on their chef hats to partake in a first-ever regional competition: the Culinary Career Quest Challenge.

During the event, students chosen by their teachers demonstrated their knowledge of teamwork, cooking methods, knife skills, time management, sanitation and more.

The aspiring chefs were put on the clock to make a soup, salad and entree for three judges, all of whom are professional chefs in the region. Students received real-world feedback based on presentation, timeliness, taste and other elements of their work.

Chef Anthony Lassiter, the executive chef for Morrison Health Care, said he was not only proud of those who took on the challenge but is glad to see those in younger generations exposed to the trade.

Lottie Ryans of the First Tennessee Development District of Workforce and Literacy Initiatives said she loved how the students challenged themselves while appreciating how the culinary industry plays a pivotal role in the area.

“Culinary is such an important part of our region because hospitality tourism is generally like in the top two or three economic drivers for our region,” Ryans said. “We have visitors from all over the world coming to visit, and then we want to put our best foot forward.”

The winners will receive the Career Quest trophy, a complimentary dinner at Blackthorns, a professional knife set for their school and will visit Daytime Tri-Cities. The next Career Quest event, focused on finance, will be on March 3 at the Northeast State Community College at 8:30 a.m.