04/13/2011 12:33 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2011

New York City High School Students Cook For Culinary Scholarships

Nineteen high school students face the pressure of a five-star restaurant on a Saturday night in New York City, as each competes for up to $500,000 in culinary school scholarships.

The students are judged by some of the top chef's in the city.

"I can see right away there's one natural," Chef Joey Fortunato, of Extra Virgin Restaurant told 1010 Wins. "...Confidence and just the way they move. Cooking is kind of, it might sound weird, it's like an athletic thing and you have to have the right motions."

Students are charged with creating a complicated main course and desert.

The competition was started by the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program in 1990.

Joyce Appelman, communications director for CCAP, told HuffPost she hopes the competition gives students a taste of the industry.

"A large number of students who graduate from culinary schools leave the industry within five years because they haven't had any preview to what it is to work in a kitchen," Appelman said. "Our goal is to help them succeed in the industry."

Appelman said students who don't perform as well as their peers in the competition should not be discouraged from pursuing a career in food.

"It's all different levels in the culinary world," Appelman said. "If they're too slow to work in a five star restaurant, they can go and become a personal chef or find another opportunity."