It’s hard to imagine that beef spareribs and chocolate cake can changes lives–until you consider that the skill to cook them has the power to launch careers.
Four teens from Springfield, Missouri are on their way to compete for kitchen bragging rights as part of a national culinary showdown. Armed with lessons from the classroom and tutelage from a restaurant chef, they fully intend to give the competition a run for its money.
Pro Start is a two-year high school program aimed at teaching students both culinary and restaurant management skills. Schools in about forty states compete and the state champions earn a spot at the National Pro Start Invitational. The Springfield teens from Glendale High School–two seniors, one junior and one sophomore–took home state honors after wowing judges with dishes that would likely intimidate far more seasoned chefs.
Students Azzie Navarrette, Madison Saxton, Chris Stewart and Victoria Richardson had one hour to turn around a three course meal using only two burners—and they pulled it off with nearly a perfect score. The four prepped a salad of quinoa, apples & pomegranate with maple balsamic vinaigrette. The main course of beef spareribs was pressure cooked, braised and sautéed in butter and served alongside beet gnocchi and blanched broccolini. But the chocolate cake dessert was the scene-stealer: the cake was steamed and served with whipped cream and chocolate caviar—a trick involving beads of chocolate dropped through a cylinder. The students developed their menu and mastered their skill with the help of chef Donnie Cummings of Table 22 Restaurant in Branson, Missouri.
The competition, held at East Central College in Union, Missouri was the culmination of months of training for the students who auditioned for the spots on the Glendale team. The ProStart Invitational will be held April 19-23 in Baltimore, MD. ProStart reaches nearly 100,000 students in 1700 high schools and is supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, industry members and educators.