A Lindenhurst High School senior had the recipe for success in a cooking contest for high schoolers.

Nicholas Giambrone, 18, placed third in the 7th Annual America's Best High School Chef competition, sponsored by Monroe College in New Rochelle. He was awarded a $36,000 scholarship to attend Monroe and the opportunity to study for a semester in Italy.

Giambrone, in addition to his studies in Lindenhurst, is under the tutelage of chef and coach Nancy Kombert at the Western Suffolk BOCES Wilson Tech campus in Dix Hills.

"It was a very emotional experience. I'd never done anything this big before," said Giambrone, who credited his late uncle, Baltimore restaurateur Carmelo Fertitta, for helping to spark his interest in the field.

The competition consisted of three rounds in which Giambrone was asked to demonstrate mastery of culinary techniques. In the first round he had to demonstrate knife skills, and in the second he made a salad with a red wine vinaigrette.

Giambrone was among six finalists in the third round, in which he had one hour to prepare a meal from a mystery basket of ingredients.

His dish was a chicken breast over spinach in a white wine cream sauce, with roasted potatoes, green beans and onions.

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"I think it was the best sauce I ever made," Giambrone said.