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MCC Chef mentors two aspiring chefs through ACT-SO competition


Ethan Martinbianco preparing one of his award-winning dishes.
Ethan Martinbianco preparing one of his award-winning dishes.

Two area high school students mentored by Mott Community College Chef Matthew Cooper competed in a local competition of the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program April 4 at the College. ACT-SO is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

MCC’s Culinary Arts program is the Official Culinary Instruction Provider for all 11th and 12th grade students in Genesee County, in partnership with the 2019 Flint Branch NAACP ACT-SO and the Genesee Career Institute Culinary Program. The Flint group is one of 11 official Culinary ACT-SO units in the country.

Two of the three students competed. Ethan Martinbianco, a senior at Lake Fenton High School, earned a Bronze Medal, and Abigail Rankin, a junior at Linden High School, received an Honorable Mention.

“The Judges and National facilitators were very impressed with the level of skills that each student brought to, and exhibited, during the competition and commended them on being part of our Inaugural event,” said Ella Greene-Moton, Flint ACT-SO Chair.

Each student had to develop and prepare a menu for judging. Martinbianco said he “wanted to do something I have never done before, so out of my two options I chose duck because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little bit.” His menu included duck liver and leg pate, with homemade thyme crackers, honey mustard, green capers and diced red onion, and seared duck breast with an orange hoisin glaze, potato fondant, and sauteed asparagus.

Rankin’s menu honored her grandmother. “My favorite thing she would make was her chicken and dumplings and fried chicken,” said Rankin of her menu that included Southern Fried Chicken salad and Chicken Quenelles with parsnip and carrot noodles.

ACT-SO includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing, visual and culinary arts. Almost 300,000 young people have participated from the program since its inception.


Mott Community College is committed to excellence in education and offering services that cultivate student success and improve the overall quality of life in a multicultural community. With more than 100 academic and occupational degree programs, we help students prepare to achieve more in an ever-changing economy. Through university transfer agreements, high-demand associate's degree programs and one-year certification programs, we help ensure that all Mott students are ready to get more out of life.

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May 7, 2019
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