A sweet end to the school year for a group of culinary students as their tacos took home top prize. They’re sharing their winning recipe with Kevin Ozebek in tonight’s 7 Spotlight.

A few ingredients and a little bit of teamwork can create a winning recipe.

Melanie Mann-Odin, teacher: “The secret is lots of flavor.”

This is the Miami Springs Senior High School culinary team, also known as the Hot Hawks. The team is led by teacher and Miami Springs graduate Melanie Mann-Odin.

Melanie Mann-Odin: “This is the original classroom from the ’60s, when the school was built, and I came in, and I was shocked to see that nothing had changed since 1992.”

Melanie wanted to revamp the culinary program, so she asked The Education Fund for help. The organization helps provide educational opportunities for Miami-Dade students.

Melanie Mann-Odin: “I reached out to them, and I said, ‘I’m in dire need,’ and with the help of The Education Fund, they provided accessories for me.”

The Education Fund provided the utensils and appliances the Miami Springs Hot Hawks needed to sharpen their cooking game.

Melanie Mann-Odin: “You just cut straight through into the actual avocado without cutting the skin.”

All that practice has turned the Hot Hawks into rising stars. Each year, The Education Fund hosts a special competition for high school culinary teams called The Taste of Education.

Teams submit their best recipes across several categories in hopes of impressing a group of judges.

Nikole Bergen, student: “So we were more or less looking at the side of doing something like California beach tacos, Mexican traditional tacos and using the theme low riders to incorporate into that.”

The students came up with “Low & Slow Street Tacos.” They season a pork shoulder with a dry rub and cook it in a citrus blend marinade. The tacos are topped with onions, avocado and cheese.

Sophia Deleon, student: “The competition was so, like, crazy. Like, when you get there it’s a whole bunch of different schools. You didn’t expect to see that many people, that many judges different from everywhere.”

The Hot Hawks’ recipe devoured the competition. They earned three awards including the biggest one, The People’s Choice Award.

Everly Carbonell, student: “It was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had.”

The Hot Hawks are now looking for a new challenge next year.

Melanie Mann-Odin: “We would love to come back and win the dessert category and show that we’ve come full circle.”

And what a sweet victory that would be.

Melanie Mann-Odin and students: “Buen provecho!

Hot Hawks’ “Low & Slow Street Tacos”

8-10 lb. Pork Shoulder
1 Bag of yellow onions sliced
10 cloves of garlic
Hot Sauce

Liquid marinade:

  • 2 bottles of beer of choice (optional but adds to flavor and tenderness)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of Mojo (you can use homemade mojo or store bought will work for ease)
  • Homemade mojo created with fresh squeezed orange, lime, sour orange, fresh minced garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, finely minced onion, and olive oil

Dry Rub:
Cumin, coarse black pepper, salt, dried oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder

Pickled red onion, queso fresco, lime, cilantro


  • Inject 10 whole cloves of garlic into pork
  • Generously coat pork with dry rub
  • Place pork shoulder in slow roaster with the fat cap facing down
  • Pour marinade over pork
  • Cover pork with sliced onions
  • Cover with hot sauce of choice for desired heat level
  • Pork shoulder should marinate for 10-12 hours
  • Set slow roaster to low (250 degrees) and cook for minimum of 8 hours
  • Shred pork in the au jus and serve on warmed corn tortillas. Top with pickled red onion, fresh chopped cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, fresh lime.

Variations of toppings:
Avocado, chipotle sour cream, cilantro lime sauce, diced purple onions

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