AHS BBQ team competes at state

AHS BBQ team competes at state
Posted on 05/02/2019
AHS BBQ team competes at state

These AHS students love to eat their homework
High School barbecue team readies for state competition


By Toni Garrard Clay

AISD Communications Coordinator


Where’s the best place in town to eat ribs? Turns out it’s standing in the culinary arts kitchen at Athens High School with a group of students sampling the latest test batch. There is finger licking involved, because no matter the dictates of good etiquette, that kind of delicious can’t be wasted.


So who’s responsible for such culinary delight? The Athens High School Barbecue Team. Let’s rephrase that: the STATE-BOUND Athens High School Barbecue Team. Much like the A-Team (for those familiar with the iconic ‘80s TV show), each member has a handle. Team Captain Irais Hernandez-Morales is Queen Bean; Jonathan Snowden is Pitmaster; Emma Rosenberg is Dessert Guru; Josephine Miles is Chicken Whisperer; and Cheyanne Parrott is Riba-licious Diva.


There’s a method behind the monikers. Texas High School Barbecue Association contests consist of five categories: brisket, ribs, chicken, beans and dessert. Each member of the AHS team is responsible for one of those entries, and individual points are accrued for a team total. This past fall, the team placed third overall at the regional competition in Chapel Hill, where Jonathan’s brisket and Irais’ charro beans both took second, and Emma placed third for her pineapple upside down cake over open flame. Their performance qualified the team for the state finals in Burnett May 3 and 4 — where the Food Network will be filming the competition.


Culinary Arts teacher Amy Fonseca said they’ve been working hard to prepare for the showdown in Burnett, with a particular emphasis on the ribs and chicken.


“There are a lot of ingredients in the rub,” said Jonathan. As the pitmaster, he’s not particularly forthcoming about what any of them are. It’s a recipe handed down from his grandfather, which he describes as classic Texas brisket with “sweet heat and a nice smoked flavor.”


“We work as a team, even though we cook different things,” explained Josephine the Chicken Whisperer. “We help one another. … I didn’t know everyone before I joined. It’s been really nice to make new friends and to cook with them.”


Becoming a team member was no cakewalk. Around 19 students tried out for the limited spots by each pan or flat top grilling a steak, which was then judged by a panel.


“This is just another avenue the district is offering kids where they can be successful. It deepens their level of creativity and engages a part of their brain they don’t engage in other classes,” said Nick Rosenberg, who in addition to teaching construction management, co-sponsors the BBQ team.


Added Fonseca: “Wherever they land, it’s one more thing that will help them be successful.”

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