Culinary arts class starts strong

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell. Students of Laurel High School’s new Culinary Arts program catered their first event this past weekend at an inventory reduction auction for Eagle Equipment and Recycling. This is the inaugural year for ProStart, a two-year program where students who complete the course receive a National ProStart Certificate of Achievement recognized by the Montana Restaurant Association and Culinary Arts schools across the nation.
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell. Students of Laurel High School’s new Culinary Arts program catered their first event this past weekend at an inventory reduction auction for Eagle Equipment and Recycling. This is the inaugural year for ProStart, a two-year program where students who complete the course receive a National ProStart Certificate of Achievement recognized by the Montana Restaurant Association and Culinary Arts schools across the nation.

Laurel School District’s latest Career and Technical Education program is underway with 12 students participating in the ProStart program.
On Saturday, the class held their first catering event at an inventory reduction auction in Laurel. They served 50-60 customers the basic coffee and donuts, and hamburger and hot dog fare, while learning to work together and adhere to food safety standards.
ProStart is a two-year high school program that was developed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation to teach the next generation of students about the management and culinary sides of the restaurant business.
According to Megan Jessee, programs manager for the Montana RAEF, the students who complete the two-year program in culinary arts and foodservice management will receive an industry recognized National ProStart Certificate of Achievement and have a jump start in the business.
“It’s important for Montana kids to find trades and skills, and the ProStart program will open doors after high school,” Jessee said.
Class instructor, Haley Barker who also teaches World of Family and Consumer Science and La Cuisine I and II at LHS, says the class is based on industry standards.
“ProStart is designed to teach students about the restaurant business and give them the background to work in the food service industry,” Barker said.
While some members of the inaugural class just want to learn a new skill, several already have post-high school plans that will put the knowledge to use.
Mackenzi Troup is enlisting in the Marines soon, and sees this class as an opportunity to serve in a different capacity. “They told me a chef was one of the jobs I could choose,” she said.
Tyrel Jenkins is planning on attending the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute in Coos Bay on the southern Oregon coast. Jenkins said, “I’ve never seen the ocean and I want to eventually own a hometown bakery.”
Kazmira Martinez has a cousin who is an executive chef in Billings and said she already has a start on her post-high school plans. She plans to attend the Art Institute of California and said she already attended a pastry chef program.
“It was a two-week [intensive] program that usually takes a semester to complete and it counted for college credit,” Martinez said.
While this year’s seniors won’t be able to get the certificate, as it’s a two-year program, Barker says “they’ll have their foot in the door.”
Upcoming catering events include a school board meeting and the school musical in November, which Barker says “will be like a dinner theatre.”

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