Desiree Guerrero decided to use an old family recipe. The 12-year-old chef hoped it would put her over the top in the "Next Iron Chef" contest held in Rowland Unified last week.

"I'm using an apple crumb recipe that I got from my father's family. It's really delicious," the seventh grader explained.

Her team of amateur cooks had already "creamed" the other culinary teams at Giano Intermediate School in La Puente. They were now being judged by a panel of "experts," who would later judge a competing squad from Telesis Academy in West Covina.

"We made shrimp in a pastry shell for our appetizer, then pork chops with a crushed apple topping," Desiree said. "The apple crumb will be our dessert."

The wannabe chefs worked under the pressure of a television crew from KABC-7 News as well as a camera crew from Univision 34.

"I barely knew the basics of cooking before, but now I've learned how to cook the right way," Desiree said.

The students took culinary classes from a professional chef over the past eight weeks as part of the Options afterschool program. The enrichment program works with students from low-income communities.

"When they asked me if I wanted to work with the teens I thought it would be an interesting experience," said chef Adrianne Garza, who studied the culinary arts at Cal Poly Pomona.

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