Students from the Orleans/Niagara BOCES Orleans Career and Technical Education Center and the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center are sharpening their knives and skills to get ready to compete in the ninth annual ProStart Student Invitational on March 22 and 23.
Fifteen culinary teams and eight management teams comprised of high school students from across New York state will be at the Conference Center Niagara Falls to compete in culinary skills and management skills. All the food must be made using just two burners and no electricity at all.
At the Niagara Center's Culinary Arts program, students Joshua Baptiste, Kode Engel, Felicia Gane and Alycia Palane are hoping their menu of lobster ravioli with crab meat sauce, chicken marsala with homemade fettuccini alfredo and a sugar tower filled with orange chocolate mousse will win favor with the judges.
Teacher Bob Ihle says they are a strong team and he thinks they will do well. "They may not win, because this is very competitive, but it is a great experience for them and they are very excited about it."
Baptiste says he thinks their unique offerings will impress the judges. "A lot of students have not used the ingredients that we are using so we are hoping that will count in our favor."
"It is pretty nerve-wracking," says his teammate, Alycia Palane. "We are all taking on different parts: the starter, the entrée and the dessert so we can complete in an hour and watching the clock tick down is going to make me nervous."
The students have to make two identical plates to serve the judges, who are leading chefs from restaurants and post-secondary schools as well as professionals from restaurants, small companies and corporations. The teams will also be judged on their knife skills and food fabrication, method and technique, sanitation and safety, professionalism, presentation, recipe costing, organization and team work. The teams placing from first to fifth place will be awarded scholarships, cash and prizes. The winning teams will receive the opportunity to compete at the national level.