Ready, Set, Launch: Milton Hershey School Students Succeed in Culinary Competitions
For Milton Hershey School Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management Services career pathway, competitions provide an opportunity to test their skills and abilities. In recent months, these culinary arts students participated in a number of competitions including NASA’s H.U.N.C.H. Culinary Challenge and the National ProStart Invitational.
In early 2022, MHS students competed in the NASA H.U.N.C.H Culinary Challenge and placed third in the country. These students were able to have their recipes tested at the Johnson Space Center Food Lab in Houston, Texas during the final round of judging before results were announced.
The challenge required the students to create an entrée, side dish, and dessert that would be eaten during the NASA Health Stabilization Program—a two-week quarantine period for astronauts before a mission is launched into space. With the biggest hurdle of the competition being that the culinary creations had to meet the standards of the Johnson Space Center Food Lab, students learned about thermostabilizing, freeze-drying, and irradiating foods.
With these parameters in mind, MHS students submitted a meal consisting of turmeric-roasted salmon with blueberry-orange chutney, spiced pumpkin seeds and broccoli-green tea puree, with a dessert of mocha-almond brownie.
In addition, students were required to submit two research papers and create a video that spoke to their knowledge of the processes necessary for developing food to be sent into space.
“It’s important for our students to compete in culinary competitions so they can challenge themselves, see where their skills lie, see what other schools are doing, network with other students, and learn about other programs,” shared Samantha Katzaman, MHS culinary arts teacher.
The exceptional skills that MHS students gain from hands-on experiences like culinary competitions don’t stop with sending food to outer space. After finding success at the Pennsylvania ProStart Invitational earlier this year, the students traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in both the culinary and restaurant management portions of the national competition—where they placed 21st overall.
Through competitions like ProStart, MHS students gain valuable professional skills, like how to work with teams to develop menus, research recipes, and conduct testing and refining processes; these are lessons you’ll commonly find taught in the third or fourth year of post-secondary culinary school. Additionally, the students learn the importance of restaurant management and all that goes into the industry—like labor force decisions, hours of operation, policies, marketing, and more. It’s just one of the reasons why, year after year, MHS teachers prioritize competitions like these to further support students’ post-graduate success. Through the school’s robust CTE program, all students are given the resources to find and explore their passions—turning those passions into a career.