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Two California Culinary Academy Students Head To Thailand

Courtesy of the Royal Thai Consulate General, two CCA students will enjoy a cooking tour of Thailand as winners of the Journey Through Thailand competition

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 11, 2008) – Following fifteen hours of workshops on Thai cuisine taught by celebrity chef M.L. Sirichalerm Svasti (Chef McDang), capped off by an intense cooking competition, Meilani Calhoun and Christopher Rivera were named the winners of the Journey Through Thailand competition held at California Culinary Academy (CCA) on Friday, August 1. As winners of the contest, Calhoun and Rivera were awarded a week-long cooking tour of Thailand, courtesy of the Royal Thai Consulate General.

Working in two-person teams, CCA students were judged on their re-creation of Chef McDang’s famous Pad Thai recipe. Calhoun and Rivera teamed up for the competition and beat out 13 other teams to win the trip of a lifetime through Thailand. Chef Instructor Matthew Cosenza, who worked closely with the students and Chef McDang, said of the winning team, "the passion and the skills Calhoun and Rivera displayed during the competition will serve them well throughout their careers. They are just getting started, but these two are looking at bright futures in the industry."

Meilani Calhoun entered CCA straight out of high school, knowing for some time that cooking was her passion and her destiny. Never having travelled overseas before, Meilani is very much looking forward to seeing Thailand, cooking with Chef McDang again, and meeting other chefs from around the world. Soon to graduate from CCA, Meilani has secured an externship in New York City where she will work alongside DJ and Chef Mark Weiss.

Christopher Rivera grew up in Guam in a large family where food was celebrated at neighborhood-wide cookouts and feasts. He will graduate from CCA in three months and then head to Las Vegas to work at Picasso Restaurant at the Bellagio. While he is very interested in exploring the towns and villages of Thailand, Chris is most excited to eat his way across the country.

As an added gift for the winners, CCA President Jennifer White provided $1,000 in spending money to each student for their trip. "We are extremely proud of Christopher and Meilani," stated White. "The opportunity to learn about the culture behind the cuisine you’re cooking is a luxury, but one that can really help a young chef develop. To the extent CCA can help make that experience even more valuable, we’re eager to do so."

The students will head to Thailand with Chef McDang and six other students from the Western United States in September.

About California Culinary Academy
CCalifornia Culinary Academy (CCA) was established in 1977 in San Francisco and formed a partnership with the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu in 1998. Today, CCA, at 350 Rhode Island in Potrero Hill, offers Associate of Occupational Studies degrees in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts and Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management, and a Certificate in Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking. CCA is a member of the Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ:CECO) network of universities, colleges and schools; and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). For more information, visit www.caculinary.edu.

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