Student chefs at Whittier Regional High were named the best in the state, and they’re heading to a national competition to give final proof they know their way around a kitchen.
Considered the “Super Bowl” for high school culinary arts students, the 12th annual National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore will bring together students from 43 states and U.S. territories to compete for $1.4 million in scholarships.
Their dishes will be judged by master chefs and culinary arts instructors from across the country in the restaurant-management and culinary-arts competition being held this weekend.
The team of culinary arts students from Whittier were recently named the best student chefs in the state. The team prepared a three-course meal that dazzled judges at the Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s ProStart Culinary Competition, held in Cambridge earlier this month. Whittier’s student chefs topped those from nine other schools, earning them a coveted spot in the national competition.
“Being judged the best in the state feels amazing,” Whittier senior Brandon Lopez of Bradford said.
“It all came down to the very last second,” said senior Christine Barton of Haverhill. “It was such a thrill. It was very stressful, but we were determined to win.”
For junior Adam Caroll of Rowley, who was competing for his first time, staying calm was the biggest obstacle.
“I don’t think I have ever been that nervous,” he said. “And shaking hands and knives don’t go well together.”
The team of five students, which also includes senior Brittany Johnson of Groveland and junior Samantha Sullivan of Bradford, spent three to four days a week after school since November practicing for the recent ProStart event. Whittier students took third and fourth place in past events, but never first until this year.
“They were very focused on what they were doing and it really showed,” said Whittier chef instructor William Yameen. “The compliments they received from the judges were unbelievable. The executive chef at the Colonnade in Boston said their professionalism, presentation and taste were flawless.”