With one swift movement, the chicken sears in Daniel Magallon’s pan. The flames from the gas grill engulf the meat for split second before disappearing, as if they were never there.

The Mica Mountain High School kitchen is busy as Magallon and other students concentrate on their knife skills while making sure their green beans don’t burn. The students have an hour to make a chicken and rice dish. Every few minutes, the judges and advisers yell out the time left in the hour, all the way down to a ten second count down. The energy in the room tenses as students run their plated dishes to the white table, labeled with each competitor’s number.

“So I really had to focus,” Magallon said. “Once I focused, I was able to do it before the timer. At first I was stressed and now Im all calm.

It’s one of several events in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state conference.

In the next room, Ava Frazier competes in the chicken fabrication event. She and a dozen other students have 20 minutes to correctly cut a chicken.

For the most part, I was just making sure that I was making those cuts smoothly and cleanly as possible, Frazier said.

She’s spent the last several months practicing her skills.

“I would come in on Saturdays usually from 8-12pm, she said.

While some culinary arts events took place at Mica Mountain or Santa Rita high schools, the bulk of the competitions were held at The Westin at La Paloma. There, students competed in culinary display, fashion design, Early Childhood and Education Professions, Hospitality Management, and Interior Design.

“It’s a much larger and cohesive approach to education to help our future workforce, Stephen Goodman, the technology and tabulation coordinator for FCCLA, said.

The students that competed this week and won their events will go on to the national competition in Seattle, Washington.