A group of students from Crook County High School have proven they are fine chefs. They just brought home a state culinary title and are headed to nationals.
The Crook County School District announced Wednesday that five culinary arts students won first place at the Oregon Hospitality Foundation’s Statewide Oregon ProStart Championships.
Team manager Aspen Cross and fellow students Kiera Glenn, Tayah Hagensee, Sawyer McDonald, and Abbi Pack prepared a three-course gourmet meal using only two butane burners in less than one hour, the district said. Their dishes included Mediterranean Influenced Shrimp, Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions, and a Silky Chocolate Mousse for dessert.
Twelve teams from 10 high schools competed in this year’s event.
“As the manager, I had the chance to look at the other competitors, and I felt our team worked really well together. One of the judges said we ran a well-oiled machine. I’ve danced all my life and felt this competition was so unique, but I had a great time, and I’m so proud of my teammates,” Cross said in a statement.
And just like with sports, making a championship team means everyone being all-in and even putting in some extra work. The district said Culinary Arts Instructor Macy Hagensee noted how the team practiced late after school.
“If you get the right students together who are willing to listen and pay attention to details, then really great things can happen,” Hagensee said in a statement. “By the third practice, we were already making our time, so it allowed us to figure out ways to tweak and perfect our dishes. I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform at nationals.”
The nationals will be May 2-4 in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the first place win, Maddy Vandewalker was named the Oregon ProStart Mentor of the year for helping to prepare the team. The district says she’s a 2018 graduate of CCHS and competed at ProStart in 2017 and 2018. She’s now a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Crook County High School.
Sam Barlow High School in Gresham took second and Willamette High School in Eugene took third.
Here’s another example of how creative the CCHS culinary arts students are. They recently created soups, pasta dishes, tacos, and breakfast meals with hash browns made out of Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs). Hagensee, who is a veteran, worked with recruiters from the National Guard to bring in the MREs. Below is an image of just one of their MRE dishes.