Area high schoolers learn restaurant management, culinary arts through ESD program.

April 23, 2021

Area high schoolers learn restaurant management, culinary arts through ESD program.

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

VICTORY TWP (Mason County) — ProStart is a high school program that teaches restaurant management and culinary arts. The Michigan Restaurant Association Educational Support Foundation administrates the program to 60 schools, hosts an annual competition and awards scholarships. Students from the West Shore Educational Service District’s Career and Technical Education Culinary Arts program competed in the competition under the direction of their teacher, Shannon Miller and mentor, Chef Duane Hobart.

The culinary arts class is made up of high school students from Mason and Oceana counties.

The 2021 Michigan ProStart Virtual Competition kicked off on March 22. Throughout the week, students were judged in the following categories: culinary, management, knife cuts, nutrition and tabletop design. The program usually takes place in person in Lansing, but due to the pandemic, the entire competition was held online this year.

“I’m very proud of the students,” Miller said. “Their hard work paid off. They have been through a lot and have missed out on a lot of opportunities due to the pandemic. Last year, our management team worked for months on developing their concept and were excited about competing. We were practicing the day before we were to leave when we got the news that we were shutting things down due to COVID. They were devastated. We were not sure there would be any opportunities this year, so I am really happy the Michigan Restaurant Association was able to pull off this virtual competition.”

Student participants were Kailey Douglas, Pentwater High School; Fiorela Burillo-Castro, Hart High School; and Kalsey Williams, Ludington High School, who all participated in nutrition and were awarded first place. The same three, along with Ryland Gigante of Mason County Central High School, participated in the table-top competition. Michael Splane, Hart; Stephanie Martineaux-Aguilar, Walkerville High School1 and Brendon Roberton, Mason County Central participated as the morning team in nutrition and earned second place. Martineaux-Aguilar also participated in the knife cuts competition.

“Duane Hobart, the chef from Lincoln Hills Golf Club (located in Mason County’s Hamlin Township) was part of our advisory board committee,” Miller stated. “He was a wonderful mentor for the afternoon nutrition and table-top groups.”

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