NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Some of the city’s brightest culinary talent went head-to-head in Manhattan on Wednesday, in front of some of the city’s most well-known chefs.

However, as CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported the competitors were barely old enough to drive.

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It had all of the intensity of a top cooking competition but instead of adults it was high school seniors from New York City public schools who were battling for $500,000 in culinary school scholarships.

The judges were some of New York City’s most elite chefs.

“It was frightening, absolutely frightening,” Malica Lampley said.

Lampley plans to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. She was one of the students hand-picked to participate as part of the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, commonly referred to as C-Cap.

The kids had two hours to prepare a two course, French meal; hunter’s chicken with tourne potatoes and for dessert, crepes with chocolate sauce.

“When you get in there it’s overwhelming because all the judges are surrounding you,” Lampley said.

Once the dishes were complete they were served to the judges who scored them for taste and presentation.

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“The chicken that you expect to be overdone, it was perfect,” Corp Executive Chef, Maria Loi said.

The contest isn’t only about cooking. The students were also interviewed and quizzed on their culinary skills. They won’t find out how they placed until April 11.

“It’s going to be nerve-racking, but at the same time I know I’m not going to walk out of here empty-handed,” Sofia Mendoza said.

C-Cap alum Thiago Silva is the executive chef at five restaurants in New York and Miami, he credits the program with getting him started.

“They got me my first job. They got me in the industry,” Silva said.

By the looks of it all of the teens who competed on Wednesday are well on their way. C-Cap has hosted the competition for 24 years and has given away $40-million in scholarships.

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