The significance of being regarded as one of the top five high school culinary arts programs in the country wasn’t lost on Mary Arthur.
Still, she said that Oak Harbor High School’s culinary team felt some disappointment after finishing in fifth place for the second year in a row after competing at the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore, Md., over the weekend.
“I thought they did an amazing job,” said Arthur, culinary arts instructor at Oak Harbor. “They were smooth. They were polished. The things that the judges had issues with were honestly personal preferences of the judges. You don’t know what they’re going to like and what they’re not going to like (from year to year).”
Oak Harbor sent two teams to the national competition for the first time. Both the Wildcats’ culinary and restaurant management teams won state championships to earn the trip to the east coast.
Arthur said both teams performed very well in their competitions and said it would take more time to find out where the restaurant management team ranked among the 40-plus teams, though it didn’t finish in the top five. She didn’t want to guess, but thinks she has an idea and was very pleased.
Oak Harbor’s culinary team consisted of senior captain Racheal Balasa, juniors Haley Garden and Joanna Leete and sophomore Sara Jackson. The management team was made up of seniors Michelle Lambert and Robert Clemena and sophomore Patrick Salgado.
Scott Fraser, the program’s longtime mentor and owner of Fraser Gourmet Hideaway, accompanied the students on the trip.