“I was working with my parents in a restaurant,” she said. “I’m not sure why. I just saw them cooking, and as a child, you want to do what you see.”
Last month during a scholarship competition at the Art Institute of Atlanta, Bobadilla’s love for cooking was taken to another level, as she clinched the gold medal for the competition, rising to the top above 10 other participants.
Her win, she said, was quite unexpected.
“I was really surprised [when they announced me as the winner],” she said with a laugh. “When they were doing the awards and I looked at the other plates, I thought they were better than mine.”
The competition, which was held March 2 at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta, required that each of the 11 finalists cook a two-course meal in two hours as well as showcasing mastery of their knife skills.
Bobadilla, along with the other 10 finalists, prepared shrimp cocktail as the first course and a sautéed chicken breast with a garnish, rice pilaf and broccoli sauté.
Her special touch, which she thinks set her apart was the garnish for the chicken breast.
“Mine was like a cream of mushroom sauce,” she said. “The ingredients for the sauce were kinda limited.”
To add rigor to the competition, finalists only had a small window of ingredients to use for the garnish, inclusive of things like jalapenos, to give it a spicy kick.
In order to prepare for the competition, Bobadilla prepped with her father, the week before.
“I practiced the recipes multiple times during that week,” she said. “I basically cooked everyday. My dad also helped me with my knife skills since he used to work with a chef.”
Bobadilla said the hardest part of the competition was managing her time effectively and plating the dishes once they were completed.
“With the plating, it had to be exactly perfect,” she said. “We had to make two plates that were exactly identical to one another. That’s what I believe made it the most difficult.”
As apart of her gold medal prize, Bobadilla won $4,000 in scholarship funds at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Her win also automatically entered her into the national competition.
In the future, Bobadilla plans to attend culinary arts school and either open her own bakery or restaurant.