Culinary Kids to Compete

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Some Newport students will be testing their recipes for success at a state competition in April.

The students from the Newport Harbor High School culinary and management teams will be competing against other high school teams from across the state on April 1 and 2 at Cal Poly Pomona.

The NHHS teams are coached by the Culinary Arts teacher, Janet Dukes, and two local chefs.

Approximately 30 schools are expected to compete in either the culinary and/or the management competitions this year, Dukes said.

“We have worked hard and are fortunate to have won several times,” Dukes said. “I am proud of the kids’ efforts.”

The NHHS culinary team has taken home the first-place honor five times at the state competition since 2004. The culinary team also earned second-, third- and fourth-place  honors at the national competition since 2004.

The management team also won first last year, and has secured second- (four times) and third-place honors since 2003.

The state competition includes two portions: California Boyds Coffee Culinary Cup and BJ’s Restaurants Management Cup. The competition is an annual two-day event for students in the ProStart career program. The ProStart program is sponsored by the California Restaurant Association.

The competition allows students to show off the skills they have learned through the program. A smaller team of students within the program is chosen for the competition, but the entire class shares in their success.

With the Culinary Arts Club, the students get hands-on experience learning different recipes and cooking methods, about spices and foods, and everything else a student chef would need to know. They cook a lot of family recipes from Dukes, but they also get to be creative as a team and design or fine-tune some recipes. Many different chefs come to talk to the class as well.

In the culinary portion of the competition, students prepare a starter, entrée and dessert within 60 minutes using just two butane burners.

In the management side of the competition, students develop a business proposal for a new restaurant concept consisting of a defined restaurant concept, supporting menu and supporting marketing plan. Teams prepare a comprehensive written proposal, verbal presentation and visual display. Competitors are tested on their critical thinking skills by reacting to potential management challenges related to their concept. Teams will demonstrate their ability to work together while developing their business proposal.

Winners advance to the National ProStart Invitational.

“I’ve always wanted to expose students to the (culinary arts) industry,” said Dukes during a Culinary Arts Club event in September, “and once they get exposed to it, (many) find out they love it.”

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