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Culinary students place first, second in virtual competition

Students enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Carrier Educational Center recently competed in the first virtual New York State Restaurant Association ProStart Invitational competition. Members of the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management teams are pictured competing in the Taste of Education which was held in early March. Pictured, from left, are guest judge and WGRZ-Channel 2 News anchor Melissa Holmes; Chef Jim Kuras, Charles Hering, Jessica VanDerwalker, Grace Overbeck, Erichka Reyes-Sierra, Michael Hamm, Matt Calamita, Layla Seneca, Mrs. Sandy Kaleta, and Garrett Chmura. Submitted Photos

ANGOLA — Students enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at the Carrier Educational Center thought for sure their chances to compete in the New York State ProStart Invitational were erased after schools closed their doors on March 15.

Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES students on the Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts teams were scheduled to compete in New York City on March 27-28. With schools closed and a state on pause, the odds of competing looked bleak.

“Leading up to the competition it didn’t look good,” said Jim Kuras, Carrier Educational Center Culinary Arts teacher. “First, school field trips were canceled, and then all schools were closed soon after.”

Students put in weeks of work to prepare for the competition; from practicing meals for the Culinary Arts competition to designing layouts, graphics and menus for the Hospitality Management competition. Thankfully, their work was not all for naught.

“The New York State Restaurant Association ProStart Invitational first looked at possibly having judges come to each school, but then schools were closed,” Kuras said. “The only option was a virtual competition.”

Zach Kist of Lake Shore and Alexander Dispence, Executive Chef at Byrncliff Golf Resort and Banquets, pose with their award after competing in the Iron Chef Competition during the Taste of Education competition held in early March. Kist was part of the Culinary Arts team that placed first in the first virtual NYSRA ProStart Invitational competition.

To simulate a live cooking competition, students in the Culinary Arts competition created an editable online document, detailing the actions they would take as if they were competing in-person. Each student filled in certain portions of the cooking progress from home, describing what the plate would look like as if they were preparing one of the four menu items: Creme caramel, fish paupiette, Oysters Rockefeller and German Spaetzle.

Students on the cooking team placed first in the virtual competition and include junior Garrett Chmura and seniors Charles Hering, Michael Hamm and Zachary Kist, all of Lake Shore Central School. Seniors Charles Hering, Michael Hamm and Zachary Kist are all accepted to and are planning on attending Niagara Falls Culinary Institute in the fall. Each senior receives a $1,500 scholarship for placing in the ProStart Competition.

To simulate a live-presentation for their restaurant proposal, students were able to submit digital files for their business entitled Kabob-O-licious. The food truck restaurant specializes in kabob-style meals from a Pizzapullabob to a French Toast Kabob. Students had to create a detailed floor plan of their food truck, specifying every possible item required to properly run the business.

Students on the Hospitality Management team placed second and include juniors Layla Seneca and Matthew Calamita of Lake Shore and Erichka Reyes-Sierra and Grace Overbeck of Silver Creek.

“It was extremely disappointing not being able to take the kids to compete in New York City,” Kuras said. “But I’m proud of the students for persevering and working through these new challenges.”

Creme Caramel

For more information about Career and Technical Education programs visit www.e2ccb.org.

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