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Burnet culinary arts team looks to repeat as food truck battle champion

The Burnet High School culinary arts students are heading back to the second annual High School Food Truck Battle on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Centennial Plaza in Round Rock. The event, sponsored by the Art Institute of Austin, takes part during the Round Rock Chalk Walk. Along with a judged grand prize, the public can vote on the People’s Choice award. Go to roundrockarts.org for more on the competition and bulldogbistro.org for more on the Burnet culinary arts program. Courtesy photo

The Burnet High School culinary arts students are heading back to the second annual High School Food Truck Battle on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Centennial Plaza in Round Rock. The event, sponsored by the Art Institute of Austin, takes part during the Round Rock Chalk Walk. Along with a judged grand prize, the public can vote on the People’s Choice award. Go to roundrockarts.org for more on the competition and bulldogbistro.org for more on the Burnet culinary arts program. Courtesy photo

EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON

BURNET — The Burnet High School culinary arts students know going into the second annual Art Institute of Austin High School Food Truck Battle the other five teams are gunning for them.

“We won it all last year,” culinary arts teacher Mike Erickson said. “We won the judges and People’s Choice (awards). It’s hard to win it two years in a row, so we have to bring it all out there.”

The food truck battle is 5-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, during the Round Rock Arts Chalk Walk at Centennial Park, 301 W. Baghdad Ave. in Round Rock. The concept is simple: Six high school culinary arts teams step into their respective food trucks, cook a bunch of food, and serve it to the public and a panel of professional chefs (the judges).

Execution, well, is not as simple.

Last year, in the event’s first year, the Burnet team cleaned up with a flavorful twist on a slider.

This year, the students are developing El Ray, a Tex-Mex chicken taco with roasted pineapple pico de gallo, and other dishes.

As the returning champion, the Burnet team gets to use the King’s Hawaiian food truck. Several local food truck vendors loan their trucks to the teams for the competition.

Erickson knows his students have come up with a great main dish (they’ll have to prepare and serve about 300 of them), but it’s also about presentation and interaction, especially when it comes to the People’s Choice award.

“One of the things we talk about a lot in class is customer service, doing the little things and those touches that make a big difference,” Erickson said.

The Burnet students are working to come up with those “little things” to make sure the public remembers their experience with the Bulldogs culinary team. They’re even enlisting the aid of an actual bulldog puppy to tug on a few heart strings.

The Burnet team is made up of 10 students in the truck, but Erickson is taking five more.

“I want to take some of the younger kids so they can experience this and get them excited about next year,” Erickson added.

The event is a fundraiser, the six high school teams get to split the proceeds, which includes the $12 fee for people to taste all six trucks’ food and vote on People’s Choice. This year, the Round Rock Arts and Art Institute of Austin have added online voting.

People can go to roundrockarts.org, look for the Chalk Walk page, which will lead them to the food truck competition. On that page, people can make a $5 donation online, which earns the recipient team a point.

“So if you can’t make the contest, you can still support us,” Erickson said.

Last year, the Art Institute of Austin presented the Burnet culinary arts students with $750 from the food truck competition. The students helped decide how to spend the money for the culinary arts program.

While it’s a good competition, Erickson pointed out that the food truck battle also gives students a taste of working under pressure while still ensuring they put out a high-quality product and create a great dining experience for the public.

Along with the Burnet culinary arts students, several art students are going to attend and draw some chalk art by the Burnet squad’s food truck.

“If you can, it’s a fun event,” Erickson said about the Chalk Walk. “The art is amazing. They’ll have live music later. It’s a lot of fun, and just going is free.”

Go to roundrockarts.org for more information on the event.

If you miss this chance to sample the Burnet culinary art students’ work, you have another opportunity Thursday, Oct. 26, when they host the first Bulldog Bistro, when the students plan, prepare, and serve a full meal. Go to bulldogbistro.org for more information or to make a reservation.

daniel@thepicayune.com