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EVHS Grad Claire OShoney is #1 Teen Chef in America

By Ashlee Reed

East View High School 2021 graduate Claire OShoney has been ranked the #1 teen chef in America by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). OShoney has worked towards this achievement for four years through EVHS’s culinary arts program, but her interest in food began at a young age. 

In 4th grade, OShoney made a lasagna for her family as part of a school assignment about Italy. 

“It just started this love and passion for cooking, and I just dove off the deep-end.”

OShoney would spend hours watching cooking tutorials from the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Chopped, and Cutthroat Kitchen. This love for cooking is what led OShoney to join EVHS’ culinary arts program during her freshman year where she would meet the culinary arts program instructor Chef Emily Jimenez. 

“From the minute I stepped into that kitchen, Chef Jimenez has pushed me to be a better person and leader.”

As a freshman, OShoney started as an alternate for one of EVHS’ competing FCCLA groups. Her first experience in the EVHS kitchen was during a try-out session for an FCCLA group - her cooking that day resulted in a delicious pork-tenderloin and a broken plate.

“Even with breaking a dish during my first time in the kitchen, being able to put all of my hard work on a plate and see its success was just incredible.”

During her sophomore year, OShoney left her other extracurriculars - dance, Glee Club, and theatre - and was made head chef of her own FCCLA group. In this position, OShoney worked alongside her fellow culinary arts students, directing them during competitions; she remained a head chef throughout the rest of her time at EVHS. However, COVID would completely disrupt what OShoney and her fellow chefs were used to; teams were no longer permitted. Instead, the upcoming FCCLA competitions would be entirely individual.

“When we found out we could compete at the individual level, it was so exciting. I’m a very individualistic person when it comes to working in a kitchen.”

During the 2021 FCCLA competitions, OShoney would place 1st at the Region and State competition. When it came to Nationals, OShoney only had two weeks to practice making the same dish all of her competitors would be making: a pan seared chicken breast, velouté sauce, creamy parmesan risotto, and sauteed green beans. Usually, students would travel to a designated venue to compete, but this year they were required to record themselves preparing their dish in their high school’s kitchen. 

“As my last competition, it was a ‘throw my hands in the air’ type of thing. I knew that when the camera clicked off, that was the end of high school culinary for me.”

OShoney wanted to be authentic and have fun with her last competition, so she made her dish in true Rachael Ray fashion, narrating each step she took. 

“It was like - here is my final year, and here is me.”

Claire was notified mid-June that she was rated as one of the top 3 teen chefs in America. During GISD’s watch party for the final placement announcement on June 30, OShoney found out her placement with Chef Jimenez right beside her. 

“I am so blessed to even be able to say that I am in the top three. Just advancing to Nationals was amazing. I’m just so utterly thankful for my community, Chef Jimenez, and GISD to be able to have these opportunities.”

For her top placement, OShoney was awarded with a scholarship for $4,000 a semester at Johnson and Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America. From Sullivan University she received $50,000 - the equivalent of a full ride.

“I’m still absorbing all of it. It’s been an incredible, fast-paced, and sudden process.”

OShoney and her best friend Hannah Kilpatrick, another EVHS student who competed at Nationals, also got to travel to New York City this June for an underground tour of its restaurants. This trip was organized by Chef Jimenez in replacement for the Nationals trip that was cancelled due to COVID. While there, Chef Jimenez was able to reserve a table at Le Bernardin, a 3-Star Michelin rated restaurant. In addition to eating at Le Bernardin - one of the best restaurants in the world - OShoney and Kilpatrick were given a tour of its kitchen. After returning home, OShoney and Kilapatrick received an invitation to stage (i.e. intern) at their kitchen whenever they return to New York City. 

“Being invited by the best chef in the world to work in the 26th best kitchen in the world is surreal.”

With such lucrative opportunities awaiting OShoney, her future is inevitably bright. OShoney will study at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi in the fall where she will continue her culinary education.

“It’s all about taking the jump. One thing Chef Jimenez taught me is that ‘safe doesn’t grow’. So, I think it’s time to take the jump.”

To keep up with OShoney’s culinary journey, follow her at @little.blonde.chef on Instagram.