Milton Hershey School Culinary Students Taste Sweet Success at PA ProStart Competition
Several Milton Hershey School high school students competed at the Pennsylvania ProStart Student Invitational. ProStart is a nationally recognized culinary arts and management program for high school students to gain hands-on experience before graduation.
For seven years, students in the MHS Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Services career pathway have competed and placed first in the culinary portion. This competition requires a three-course meal showcasing cooking methods, safety and sanitation practices, flavor pairing, seasonality, and portion sizes.
Samantha Katzaman and Bradley Jennings, MHS culinary arts teachers, helped students practice and train for the state competition. Jennings adds, “As teachers, we guide them through the process by presenting challenges, giving professional feedback, hosting guest judges and mentors, and allowing the students the ability to test their ideas.”
The MHS culinary team consisted of juniors: Elijah Eubank, Lisa Jones, Lindsay Andrews, and TJ Kramer. They prepared the following award-winning meal:
- Appetizer: Chilled seafood sausage with pickled vegetables, a fennel corn salad, and hollandaise sauce.
- Entree: Applewood-smoked lamb with an apricot-maple glaze, potato, and mushroom terrine, a beet and carrot mosaic, a wine cream sauce, and dandelion greens.
- Dessert: A porcini mushroom, almond, and chocolate torte with a black pepper strawberry compote, burnt toast whipped cream, and strawberries.
“This competition helped us to prepare for our future careers by deepening our skills within culinary arts while also teaching us how to work as a close-knit team,” Elijah said. “Through this experience, we worked on our time management skills and decreasing waste.”
Elijah, Lisa, and TJ also competed in the management portion and placed second overall. This is the third year that MHS has created a restaurant concept including a menu, logo, design of establishment, floor plan, and decor.
“This opportunity gave me a taste of how to work under pressure and problem solve,” Lisa said. “The team really wouldn’t have made it as far as we did if it weren’t for Chef Katzaman and Chef Jennings who encouraged us throughout the entire experience.”
Now, the culinary team will continue fine-tuning their meal based on judges’ feedback and prepare for the national competition in May where they will compete against the top culinary teams in the country.
“Our students learned so much during this five-month experience,” Katzaman said. “Through research, testing, perfecting, and pitching—these are skills normally taught in culinary school that our students learned before they graduate from high school.”