Eight local students representing the Clare-Gladwin Career Center’s Culinary Arts class joined 53 teams of their peers from 20 career and technical education centers across Michigan on March 22 and March 23 for the annual Michigan ProStart Competition in Lansing. Hosted by the Michigan Restaurant Association Education Support Foundation (MRA ESF), the students competed in multiple events that tested their knowledge of the ProStart curriculum; a two-year program for high school students that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders.
The high school juniors and seniors from Clare and Gladwin counties were divided into two teams – one competing in the Management portion of the competition and the other in Nutrition. On the Management team was Beaverton senior Nicole Martin, along with Gladwin seniors Heather Baker, Brandon Bentley, and Cassie Melean. The Nutrition team included Clare junior Mehna Orr, Harrison senior Noah Cesal, and Harrison juniors Dylan Atwell and Marissa Mathews.
The Management team first competed in the ServSafe “Jeopardy!” style knowledge bowl sponsored by the Van Eerden Foodservice Company. This question-and-answer event tested the participants’ knowledge of critically important issues of food safety and sanitation. Baker, Bentley, Martin, and Melean then took part in the management/entrepreneurship portion of the competition, sponsored by Gordon Food Service. Students demonstrated their knowledge of the industry by developing a restaurant proposal, delivering a verbal presentation, and applying critical thinking skills to challenges that restaurant managers face in day-to-day operations.
During the Nutrition component of the ProStart competition, Atwell, Cesal, Mathews, and Orr created a menu and prepared a three-course meal that met the National Restaurant Association’s Kids’ Live Well and USDA menu criteria.
Ultimately, the Management team placed sixth and the Nutrition team placed second in their respective categories.
“We are so proud of our students,” said Culinary Arts Instructor Heidi Rocha. “They not only worked very hard and performed well, but in many ways demonstrated strong character, maturity, and compassion towards others. We witnessed them connecting with other ProStart students, shaking hands, and even encouraging other teams who didn't perform as well. It was definitely a meaningful experience for everyone.”
Rocha thanked Chef Fred Garcia of Tipsy Bear Bistro in West Branch and Clare County Senior Services Dietician Carol Majewski for mentoring the student teams as they prepared for the competition.
Rocha also expressed appreciation for those who sponsored the teams’ participation in the ProStart Competition:
Bill & Teresa Jackson
Create It - Beaverton
Cynthia Burns Consulting LLC
Kehoe Realty - Gladwin
Lambert's Meat Market - Gladwin
MacLean's Mercantile - Harrison
National Pipeline Services
Ponderosa Steakhouse - Clare
Culinary Arts is one of nine career and technical education programs offered to local high school juniors and seniors at the Clare-Gladwin Career Center, a program of the Clare-Gladwin RESD.