Thursday, March 9, 2023

Mixing it up

District culinary students compete for championship honors

The Plymouth Canton Community Schools Hospitality and
Culinary Arts Team competed last weekend at the Michigan
 ProStart Competition in Port Huron. The team is
coached by Diana Woodward, district chef instructor. 
Plymouth-Canton Community Schools will compete to avoid the “chopping block” in a statewide culinary competition as they vie for an opportunity to be the best student chef in Michigan, and potentially move on to a national cooking contest. 

“This team is quite possibly the most caring, kind, hard-working, respectful and tough young culinarians I've ever had the pleasure of coaching in 22 years and their talent is something we should all watch for in the months and years to come,” said Diana Woodward, district chef instructor and coach. 

The Hospitality and Culinary Arts Team has 10 members who competed last weekend at the Michigan ProStart Competition in Port Huron. The top Michigan team will then go on to compete May 2-4 at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C.

Student participants competed in three events, including: creating a nutritious and delicious children's menu; developing a restaurant from the ground up and pitching it “Shark Tank”-style to judges, complete with a written proposal and preparing a three-course dinner without refrigeration, electricity or running water. Students will have camp stoves for heat.

Nearly 50 students are enrolled in the Plymouth-Canton hospitality and culinary arts program, considered among the best in the state, according to educators. The program consistently ranks among the top programs in the state and across the country, according to ProStart and SkillsUSA career and technical programs. In 2022, the Plymouth-Canton program was ranked first or second in the state - and across the country - for culinary, restaurant service, baking and management programs.

“I've always wanted to be a chef and cook for people, so being in the culinary arts program shows me what it's like to work in a restaurant,” said Salem High School junior Charlie Salowich, a member of the team at the ProStart Competition. “Competing against students from other schools is a lot of fun because we get to go up against people from all over the state and see how good we really are.”

Salowich and the team practice four times a week in preparation for the ProStart Competition. During a recent practice, Salowich sauteed a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery while nearby, teammate Yamira Garver kept a close eye on sugar bubbling in a ramekin as it became caramel. 

“I love this team so much,” Garver said. “They're fun and they love food as much as I do.”