Local Culinary Students Prepare for National Competition

John Krinjak

Updated 7 months ago


These girls from Waldo County Tech aren’t just culinary students – they’re culinary champions.

“Last year we came in second place and this year we came in first place. So I like the trajectory here,” said Chef Instructor Mark Hannibal.

The young chefs came in first at the statewide ProStart competition in Portland.

Were they surprised how well they did? “Yeah, after they announced Lewiston, I was really surprised because Lewiston is a really good school. I think we work really good together as a team and I’m happy,” said Amanda Schiessel.

Thanks to support from the Maine Restaurant Association, they’re on to the nationals this May in Minneapolis. So what can they expect?

“You have one hour to create a three-course meal,” said Hannibal.

That means weeks of dry runs and preparation…but at least the menu is all set.

“We’re making lamb with asparagus and orzo, a salad with grapefruit and goat cheese and walnuts and a blueberry bavarian dessert,” said Allura Bryant.

The girls hope to set themselves apart in this competition with some authentically Maine dishes, like their dessert–a blueberry Bavarian.

“We’re bringing everything from Maine, so we’re really representing Maine and I think that’s what the judges want. So I think we have a pretty good chance,” said Bryant.

Chef instructor Mark Hannibal says something about the competitive environment makes his students take their work more seriously.

“Somehow, something changes and they really get serious. And I’ve seen them just rocket forward their skills and their focus,” said Hannibal.

“When we all work together, we kind of just bond. Even though we have different personalities, we all have something in common. We all love to cook,” said Oona Foley.

That skill, focus and teamwork could just be a winning combination.

“Seriously, we’re going prepared to earn a spot on the podium. Yeah, for sure,” said Hannibal.


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