Justin Richardson, Brett Goodwin, Curtis Olson and Maddie Nossek formed a team of chefs and showed they could prepare a fine dining meal with only two burners and one hour's time.
The four Payson High Culinary Arts students took the Pro-Start Challenge, Dec. 8.
"They competed (as a team) against others high schools across the state and came in second place, surprising everyone present. For me this surprise is because of their lack of experience.The students are entry level students, but come with a vast interest in the field and some have loads of work experience from restaurants and events around Payson and Tonto Basin." Devon Wells said.
"It was a real rush. We were the only sophomore team there. It was awesome," Goodwin said,
"The competition was difficult, but a good experience and fun," Richardson said.
Payson's team out-placed other junior and senior teams from around the state.
ProStart program director William Nolan flew in from Chicago to organize the event with Scottsdale Culinary Institute chefs.
Payson Culinary's meal consisted of Blackberry Pear Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Pecan Crusted Pork with Sliced Apples, Caramelized Vegetables and Fingerling Potatoes, plus a Pumpkin Zeppole with Holiday Spiced Crème Anglaise. It was plated right on time.
Just a few weeks ago, the team of four was given the competition guidelines; they selected, tested, and practiced the menu about four times perfecting the tastes and techniques.
"Thanks to the ‘Credit For Kids' funding they could practice their menu." Wells said.
ProStart is an educational program designed by the National Restaurant Association to help youth be prepared for a culinary field.
Payson team members each won a knife set, a $750 scholarship to Johnson and Wales University, and other fun mementos from Scottsdale Culinary Institute.
"Professionals in the culinary field will be anxiously waiting to see where these four proud teens will be in 10 years," Wells said.