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Md. teen wins scholarship toward culinary degree

Wednesday - 6/6/2012, 1:46pm  ET

By KAREN GARDNER
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. - Garion Kukovich enjoys cooking just about any type of food.

Garion, 18, was named The Art Institute of Washington's Best Teen Chef 2012 and received a $4,000 scholarship to the institute's International Culinary School.

Garion graduated earlier this week from Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, and will be working at the Wine Kitchen in Frederick this summer in food prep.

His goal is to become head chef at a restaurant. In the meantime, he hopes to learn all he needs to achieve that goal.

"He's always loved to cook," said Garion's mom, Lisa Kukovich. "He's amazing in the kitchen." He has made dinners for friends and co- workers of hers, and they have been impressed.

In his junior year of high school, Garion took food preparation classes at Frederick Community College. He took one class each semester, in addition to carrying a full load of high school classes. The classes confirmed his desire to become a chef.

"I like how creative I can be," Garion said. "I'm open to eating anything."

Garion's first restaurant job was at Waffle House, where he greeted customers and poured coffee. He worked his way up to a job at Volt, but he still was not involved in food preparation.

Eventually, Volt's chef-owner, Bryan Voltaggio, invited Garion to work in the food preparation area for unpaid experience.

There, Garion learned about chopping, cutting, making sauces and adding herbs and spices. He also met Adam Harvey, who later became chef at the Wine Kitchen.

Harvey recently offered Garion a job at the Wine Kitchen. Harvey and the restaurant's sous-chef are graduates of the International Culinary School.

For the competition, Garion prepared chicken with a creme-dijon sauce, which he placed around the chicken.

The chicken was placed on a bed of rice pilaf, with pieces of broccoli surrounding the rice. Each student had to work with the chicken-broccoli-rice pilaf combination.

"I do consider cooking an art," he said. He cooks by feel, preferring to work without recipes. He is not a cookbook reader. He prefers to try various combinations of ingredients. "I prefer to use fresh ingredients as opposed to frozen or packaged," he said.

Garion will start attending classes at the culinary school in October, and the program will take 18 months to two years to complete, Lisa Kukovich said. Garion will live at home in Spring Ridge and take the MARC train and the Metro subway to reach the school, which is located in Arlington, Va.

The Art Institute of Washington is a branch of the Art Institute of Atlanta, and is one of more than 50 schools that teach design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts.

Two other scholarships were awarded in the competition. Daniel Smyth, of Bealeton, Va., was awarded the silver medal in the Best Teen Chef 2012 competition, and received a $1,000 scholarship. Keith Chappell, of Winchester, Va., was awarded the gold medal in the culinary school's Culinary Scholarship Competition, with a $1,500 scholarship toward tuition at the culinary school.

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)