Cooking up state accolades
The Crook County High School Culinary Team brought home a fourth-place win at the March 2 ProStart High School Culinary Competition, held in Salem.
To top it off, CCHS culinary teacher Macy Hagensee won the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association Culinary Teacher of the Year for the State of Oregon. This is the ninth year that Hagensee's culinary teams have competed at the competition in Salem.
"This is the best we have done so far," remarked Hagensee. He said there were approximately 20 other schools represented in the competition.
According to Hagensee, the students are inspected for uniforms, shoes, aprons, chef coats among other details in their presentation as a team. The students make three different dishes—an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. They must also price out the food and figure what it would cost to break even. Additionally, the challenge for the student chef teams was to prepare a three-course gourmet meal with only two butane burners in under an hour.
Several teams pulled this off with grace, including Crook County's fourth place win at the ORLAEF (Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Education Foundation) ProStart Invitational, sponsored by Sysco. Willamette High School took top honors in the culinary competition, while McMinnville High School took first in the management competition. The event was hosted by the Education Foundation of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA).
"It is with great pleasure Sysco Portland is once again proud to be the leading sponsor of the ProStart program. These young culinarians from our state are building skills that are foundational to their careers in the hospitality industry," said Bobbie McDonald, Sysco Portland, title sponsor.
"The atmosphere at this event was electric," said Wendy Popkin, executive director of ORLAEF. "The ProStart program does a remarkable job preparing high school students with fundamental skills such as communication, teamwork, time management and professionalism needed to enter the workforce."
ProStart one of the nation's largest industry-supported career and technical education (CTE) programs, teaches high school students culinary and management skills needed by restaurant, hospitality and foodservice employers. Focused on culinary techniques and restaurant management skills, this competency-based curriculum also includes real-life restaurant experiences. The ORLAEF ProStart Invitational is the capstone of this two-year program, providing a public opportunity for students to showcase what they have learned.
Currently 33 Oregon schools, with more than 3,869 students, participate in the ProStart training program. Internationally, ProStart includes 150,000 students in 1,900 schools and technical centers across the United States, and in Guam and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Europe and the Pacific.
"It's a competition that's all about those basic culinary skills you have to have to be successful, and classic culinary skill sets," pointed out Hagensee. "It was all around a good time. Its an opportunity for the kids to get a good dose of what the industry is. All the judging points are based on industry standards.
The industry standards include knife cuts, cleanliness and food sanitation, preparation, storage, technique, appearance, and degree of difficulty for each dish. Hagensee said that the judges also count how many seconds the members of the teams wash their hands.
"We go every year, because there is not another competition that has such high stakes and such high standards, so to be able to compete and be in the top five at that competition is something special."
Hagensee reflected that the CCHS culinary team works eight weeks, Monday through Friday after school for three hours each day preparing for the competition. They have a chef mentor, Doug McFarland, from Brasada Ranch who helps the team.
"Doug helps us out, which is awesome. We have got better each year the three years we have had Doug in our corner, so he is a super important part of the process," emphasized Hagensee.
Hagensee, was awarded the Oregon ProStart Teacher of the Year award and will travel to Washington, DC to attend the awards ceremony for the National ProStart Invitational event. Every year, the nominations are made by peer culinary instructors. Local school principals for nominees write a letter and students write letters as well.
"They decide who is going to be the ProStart Teacher of the Year, and it was me…it was a nice surprise," he concluded.
Final results for the statewide culinary competition:
First Place: Willamette High School
Second Place: North Eugene High School
Third Place: Seaside High School
Fourth Place: Crook County High School
Fifth Place: CTEC
ORLAEF ProStart Invitational Awards:
Teacher of the Year – Macy Hagensee, Crook County H.S.
Mentor of the Year – Chef Michael Thieme
Alumni of the Year – Cole Barnhardt
Visit HYPERLINK "https://www.oregonrla.org/championships.html" OregonRLA.org/championships more information and photos from the ORLAEF ProStart Invitational.
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