Winning teen chef has fun in the kitchen

At the end of April, Franz Marti, a New Ulm High School senior, headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to compete in The Art Institute International Best Teen Chef 2006 Culinary Scholarship Competition; a nationwide contest for high school seniors. He’ll be competing against 20 of his peers for a $30,000 scholarship and a chance to study at the institute.

In his short culinary career, this young talent has already won two competitions: The 2006 Best Teen Chef regional cook-off, where he won a gold medal and a $6,000 scholarship, and a Best in Show award during the school’s 2005 Summer Teen Workshop. The workshop was his first exposure to a professional kitchen, and he’s been hooked ever since.

Right now, Marti cooks at a local restaurant in New Ulm, mostly burgers and pasta, and says he loves seeing the rack fill up with orders. He thrives under pressure and says he especially appreciates the camaraderie in the kitchen.

What’s he doing to prepare for the next competition? Staying cool, he says, and not thinking he’s better than any one else. He’ll be practicing at home with his parents, and making a few trips to Minneapolis to do test runs with a chef mentor at the Institute.

Any advice he would give to kids thinking about becoming a chef? “I know this goes against everything we’ve been taught, but my advice to kids who want to get into cooking is to play with your food. Just have fun; that’s what it’s really all about,” he says.