Johnson County High School culinary arts students pause for a photo while attending the 2022 ProStart Culinary Arts competition Online Photos
By Meg Dickens
Chef Travis Heath and five of his students from Johnson County High School loaded up for a trip to Knoxville, last week for the 2022 ProStart Regional Culinary Competition.
Heath reports this was the team’s first try, and although the students did not make it to the next round, they learned a lot. This is just the beginning of their culinary journeys, and they will continue to compete annually.
“These kids worked very hard in this competition,” Heath announced after the event. “We didn’t place, but I am so very proud of them and all of their hard work. This being their first competition, they learned a lot and have worked very hard, and I am forever proud of them and what they have accomplished. We will continue to fight hard, and we will try again next year!”
According to Heath, the group has been practicing after school every week for months in preparation. This must have come through in their final results, as Heath announced that the judges deemed their plating “the best presentation” in the competition. In the first portion of the two-day competition, students prepared three-course meals within an hour, broke down ingredients, learned about pricing, and worked on reports.
The second portion focused on equipment inspection. Each team brought their equipment minus the two tables and two butane burners provided by the host.
The trip was not all work and no play. According to Heath, ProStart funded a day of fun for students that included zip-lining, bowling, playing at an arcade, and eating pizza. They also previously donated 100 chef jackets to the program so students can cook without worrying about the possible mess on their clothing.
The judges’ final critique will be arriving sometime this week. Heath plans to use this to help the kids be more prepared for the coming year. He feels more confident for futurecompetitions now that they have a “better idea” of what to expect. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group to take to the competition,” Heath bragged on his students. “I am glad to say that I am able to be a part of something so great with such awesome people. Thank you all for everything you do. Keep up the great work, young culinarians!”
The Culinary Arts program is still going strong. Heath explained what a great experience for the students to learn about other parts of the hospitality industry, which he tries to incorporate in his classes as well. In other news, the student food truck will be back in service in the next few weeks.
Heath encourages anyone with questions about the program to contact him at [email protected]