These kids are really cookin'

"Five Oak Harbor High School Culinary Arts students put their cooking skills to the test on Friday and Saturday and served themselves up a fourth-place victory at an invitation-only statewide competition in Seattle.The team included seniors Roki Gumataotao and Adrienne Ketchum, juniors Jon Fry and Nicholas Rivera, and sophomore Mark Ferido.Given just two-and-a-half hours to prepare and cook a complete gourmet meal in the Boyd's Hospitality Cup competition, Oak Harbor's young chefs earned honors above seven other schools with their menu of citrus chicken, wild rice, sauteed julienne vegetables with tarragon butter, and cream puffs.The event also included Knowledge Bowl, a game show-type question and answer competition where the students from each team had to buzz in and correctly answer technical cooking questions. The culinary arts students are part of a pilot program, new this year at high school, called ProStart, created by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and sponsored by the Washington Restaurant Association. The high school students are following a national culinary arts curriculum, also followed by participating high schools in a total of 33 states. The school-to-career program has, more than 850 students in 20 high schools statewide, according to the Washington Restaurant Association.Mark Miller, School-to-Career director of the Career Advancement for Students of Hospitality, oversees the program. He selected the 12 schools to compete in the Boyd's Hospitality Cup, sponsored by Boyd Coffee Company.I picked the 12 schools that demonstrated the best of what this program is about, Miller said. Ms. Reubel's class went up against the big boy schools, like Seattle and Spokane, and Ms. Reubel's kids rocked, he said.The high school culinary arts program is taught by Louise Reubel, Family and Consumer Science teacher.The high school students valued the opportunity to take part in the competition, which was held at the Art Institute of Seattle.A lot of us were looking forward to us as a group competing against other kids our age, said Fry. He agreed with Ferido and Rivera that they appreciated the opportunity to prepare food under time pressure.It gave us a taste of what it would be like to work in a real kitchen, said Gumataotao.All of the five students indicated that they are planning to pursue a college education in the culinary arts upon graduation from high school. Fry and Ferido may pursue a military career to gain experience in preparing food for large numbers, while Gumataotao hopes to eventually end up at the renowned Culinary Institute of America. Ketchum hopes to complete her degree at Portland Culinary School.I think they can do whatever they want, said Reubel. Students with goals and direction can do whatever they want to do. The key is direction, she said.The kids have more than just direction. These kids are really cookin'. "

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