Carbondale youth team wins state hospitality competition
March 27, 2015
A team of local students assembled by Carbondale nonprofit YouthEntity took first place at the Colorado ProStart Invitational and Sysco Denver Hospitality Cup Competition last week, earning more than $50,000 in scholarship packages.
"I'm going to college!" exclaimed Basalt High School student Karla Enriquez as she held the Sysco Cup aloft.
Enriquez, Leah Allen of Roaring Fork High School and Lily Janssen of Bridges High form Youth Entity's culinary team, while management team is composed of Lily Orben of Basalt High and Leslie Padilla of Glenwood Springs High. The kids were accompanied by coaches Chef Matt Maier and YouthEntity President and Executive Director Kirsten Petre McDaniel.
At the competition, ProStart programs from across the state competed for medals, team prizes and a piece of a scholarship pie of over $800,000 in offers from a variety of post-secondary educational institutions, including the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University and Sullivan University. The top three teams in each category are recognized. In addition, the program with the highest combined score was declared the winner of the Sysco Cup and takes home the traveling trophy until next year's competition.
In the culinary competition, team YouthEntity produced a three-course meal for judges of a braised pork belly appetizer with fennel and apples and apple cider reduction, and entrée of mustard crusted New Zealand lamb, root vegetable hash, balsamic honey gastrique, and a chocolate bombe layered with hazelnut chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and sauce angliase for dessert.
"The dessert was topped by a butterfly decorated with gold leaf that makes the dessert look ethereal and brings a smile to my face every time I see it," Petre McDaniel said.
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Competitors were provided only two burners and were required to provide all their own cookware and ingredients.
"It's quite a bit of work and organization to travel with your kitchen in tow," Petre McDaniel added. "And if you forget anything, it could be disastrous for the outcome."
In the business competition, Orben and Padilla presented their restaurant concept "Share American Eatery," a family-style, affordable restaurant with a social mission of helping to feed people in need in addition to running a profitable and successful restaurant. Orben and Padilla presented their concept to industry judges and then were judged by a second panel during a question-and-answer session to test their knowledge of the restaurant industry in areas ranging from safety and sanitization to human resources.
The team will depart again in a few weeks to participate in the ProStart National Invitational competition April 18-20 in Anaheim, California.
ProStart at YouthEntity is now taking enrollment for the 2015-16 academic year and is open to all high school juniors and seniors, and sophomores by exception, in the valley. For more information contact Kirsten@YouthEntity.org.