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Culinary students prepare midterms

January 12, 2001

Culinary students prepare midterms



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


At 17, Erin Boggs is striving to find a recipe for success for herself and her young daughter.

A senior student of the culinary arts department at Washington County Technical High School, Boggs came a little closer to that goal Friday as she took third place in the annual Skills USA cooking contest.

"I really enjoyed the competition," Boggs said.

She plans to work in the catering field locally for a while after graduation and then further her education when her daughter is older.

Tying for first in the competition were Daniel Burger and Erika Wagner. Vickie Wilson came in second, Chris Staley was fourth and John Reece and Paul Stottlemyer tied for fifth.

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The food and beverage competition winners were Tammy Babcock, Kieisha Ellington, Meghan Meyer and Tyree Crump, placing first through fourth, respectively.

"This was the annual competition for all VICA students," said Mike Toth, culinary arts instructor. VICA is Vocational Industrial Clubs of America.

Toth had all 10 of his seniors and two juniors involved in the competitions, which went on all morning at the school on Oak Ridge Drive.

As the students came in Friday morning, they reached into a mystery basket to find a list of ingredients. They were given 10 minutes to think about what was on their lists and 10 minutes to decide what to do to prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert from the items on the list.

They were to prepare two complete portions of each item within the 2 1/2-hour time limit - one for the judges and one for their own consumption, Toth said.

"This serves as a midterm grade, and the winners then represent our school in state competition," Toth said.

The judges were Todd Reynolds and James Grinstead, both of the kitchens at Fountain Head Country Club, and Mike Mahr, former executive chef at Grove Manufacturing.

They judged the food, its presentation and its flair. Afterward, they met with the student chefs and offered tips for success in the kitchen and in future competitions.

Toth said he stresses to his students that there are chefs in every town, city, state and country around the world.

"But the drawbacks are that it is hot, nerve-wracking work and you're always busy on nights and holidays. ... When your friends call, you have to work," he said.

When not competing, members of the class busy themselves each day preparing lunch for about 275 students at the school. That's the hard part, Toth said.

"I tell my students, if at the end of a pressure-cooker day ... if they are looking forward to doing it again the next day, then they have the passion for this job," Toth said.

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