Students compete in culinary competition

Bailee Doman, Multimedia Editor

Junior Gwen Roberts and senior Alex Cornyn are heading to compete at a state ProStart cooking competition at Clover Park Technical College Feb 27.
Culinary teacher Janese Lassen explains what ProStart is and how it helps direct students’ futures.
“ProStart is a curriculum designed by the national restaurant association to teach culinary arts in a way that prepares students to enter the industry,” Lassen said.
Lassen then explains how PHS is different in the way that students can learn to cook.
“One, [students] are learning the basic skills needed so [they] can go and get a job in the industry and have the experience. Here at PHS we are unique in that we have the Bistro. So students actually get hands-on experience working in a restaurant setting, working in the front of the [restaurant] and the back of the [kitchen],” Lassen said.
Cornyn has been in the culinary program since his junior year and is currently in the ProStart competition team. He explains how being on the competition team has shaped his future.
“Takes a lot of time and work but I enjoy it. It helps me focus and helps me with culinary experience,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn explains what good things have can come out of doing the ProStart competitions.
“[You can get] scholarships and [culinary] skills, if you do really well you can get the attention of schools,” Cornyn said.
Junior Michaela Todd was on the ProStart competition team last year as a sophomore. She explains how Pro-start works and what you do at the competitions.
“Everybody does their own thing but we are all working together to make one larger product. So while we might all be instructed to make one dish we are all doing parts of other people’s dishes to make sure we get done on time because you only have an hour to make a three-course meal, two plates of each product,” Todd said.
Todd also explains the complexity of what they need to do in the hour.
“It has to be completely prepped and plated to go out at the end of that hour mark. And everything has to be done simultaneously, which means your entree has to be hot, if your appetizer is hot it needs to be hot, if it is cold it has to be cold.”
Todd expands on what Cornyn said about what benefits can come out of doing ProStart.
“There are some scholarships at the state level, the big ones are at the national level. Which is a huge deal because culinary school is very expensive. It can rival just like a four-year traditional college,” Todd said.
Todd then explains what she has gotten out of doing ProStart and how it has positively impacted her life.
“I spent a lot of time in the [culinary room] I was here a lot of times until 9 p.m.. I love doing [ProStart] and I would be here two to five days a week working on it. It taught a lot of team building skills. It was the first thing I ever really did where every decision impacted the rest of my team. If I burned something, that means now the whole team has burnt food. So you have to be really careful,” Todd said.
Todd also explains what tasks they might have to do to finish and go for the win in this competition.
“You learn to work simultaneously, so I would finish something for my dish and have to jump in and help the girl standing next to me finish hers. It is all about teamwork and cooperation and collaboration. It teaches a lot of collaboration skills. I learned about myself as a leader, having to take charge of my own dishes and run everything making sure the timing was working properly,” Todd said.
Todd then explains if ProStart was worth doing again.
“[ProStart] is a learning experience and what I gained from it is absolutely worth doing it again,” Todd said.