Milby High School culinary team, also known as the “Space City Buffs,” were among the only two Texas high school culinary programs selected to compete in the final round of the NASA HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) Culinary Challenge, an initiative that aims to develop new recipes that are not only delicious and sustainable for astronauts in space but also to provide an opportunity for students to research and present their work in a professional environment.
The competition, which took place Thursday, April 20, at Space Center Houston, featured 10 of the best high school culinary arts programs in the United States.
Each year, guests and Space Center Houston visitors are invited to watch the competition as the finalists work to prepare meals suitable for astronauts living and working on the International Space Station.
“The teams here had to write a technical paper about their dish and submit a two-minute video to qualify to come compete in the finals,” said Space Center Houston President and CEO William Harris. “We rate the food based on a number of qualities; appearance, flavor, texture, smell, [these are] all things that are important to all of us, but particularly astronauts in space. We evaluate the highest scoring teams, and their dish ultimately becomes a menu item for astronauts in space.”
With each team given the option of a hearty ethnic soup or stew to prepare, The Space City Buffs drew inspiration from the country of Peru by preparing Chupe de Quinoa, a delicious Peruvian soup.
“The actual criteria for the recipe has a lot of restrictions,” said Milby Culinary Arts Instructor Carlos Ramos. “It must be very low in sodium, very low in sugar, and very low in fat, which makes it a very challenging competition for any seasoned chef yet alone student chefs.”
No stranger to the HUNCH Culinary Challenge, this year marks Milby’s second time making the top 10 finalists, but first time attending the competition after 2021’s final round was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We’re really proud to be here,” said Milby High School junior Joseph Galindo. “I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and talking to different chefs. I love seeing people so interested in our food, which makes me really happy.”
To learn more about Milby High School’s culinary program, click here.
For more information about NASA’s HUNCH program, click here.