“Fair-Tastic Foods” competition puts high school culinary students to the test

The Florida State Fair is coming up and the thing I’m most interested in is the food. Anything fried, sweet, or covered in something savory gets my coins. One of their annual events leading up to the big day is the Fair-Tastic Foods competition, where high school culinary students in Tampa Bay-area counties create a variety of fair-inspired foods for a chance to replicate it on a larger scale.

This year’s Fair-Tastic Foods competition winner in the Best of Show Sweet category is high school senior Natalia Collazo. Her prize creation are her Apple Fingers: apple slices covered in powdered sugar with a caramel dipping sauce. Learn more about her:

“High school students from Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Manatee counties competed in the Fair-Tastic Foods competition last weekend all for the chance to be named winners in Best of Show categories and a variety of prizes including having their winning creation added to the Florida State Fair cookbook, published once the fair concludes. 

“When the judges were eating my food, I’d look out the corner out of my eye to see their reactions and how they liked it. I wanted to know their initial reactions,” says Natalia Collazo, a senior at Plant City’s Durant High School.

This is Collazo’s second time competing in the Fair-Tastic Foods competition, where she was crowned first place in the Best of Show Sweet category winner for her Apple Fingers and second place winner for her Burger Balls. She says she was inspired to enter the competition again by her culinary teacher Guy Hermis.

“He tries to find different competitions for us to enter. He told me about it last year too and I had so much fun. It was a great experience and I wanted to do it again this year,” she says. “

The fair begins February 6th until the 17th. Read more about Collazo and her winnings here.