Student Spotlight: Lily Janssen
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Last year, Bridges High School junior Lily Janssen joined ProStart, a nationwide high school program dedicated to training tomorrow’s best and brightest restaurant and foodservice leaders. The local ProStart group was assembled by Carbondale nonprofit YouthEntity, and last year, the students won the state competition.
Janssen started the program early, as it’s meant for juniors and seniors, and she’s shown great promise and grown to love the culinary arts.
She told the Post Independent how she got involved with ProStart, what she loves about the culinary arts and where she sees food in her future.
Post Independent: When did you first become interested in food?
Lily Janssen: When I started with the local culinary program, ProStart. Before that I just thought food was something you needed to power your body.
PI: Have you taken any cooking classes through school or elsewhere?
LJ: I started ProStart as a sophomore in a senior program. We learn about the basics of cooking, safety, sanitation and how to prepare a recipe. I learned all that in the first semester, and when second semester started, we split into our teams for competition. Four students were on the business team, where they would prepare a whole restaurant plan and present it to a panel of judges at the state competition. We started a culinary team with four girls, and we practiced and refined our menu every Monday and Tuesday non-stop. Only a week before our regional competition one of our team members quit, and so we all had to step up and co-create the dessert. Regionals arrived, and we placed second by 0.65 of a point. In the following weeks we practiced so much that when State arrived we placed first! I received $65,000 in scholarships to many different culinary schools and colleges. Then we were on our way to nationals. That whole experience was life-changing. Now I know what I want to learn more about in the future, and I look at the food that we power our bodies with so differently.
PI: Would you consider cooking an art? Why or why not?
LJ: I do consider cooking and art. It is so beautiful when a chef can follow the curve of the plate with their sauce or when the dots are all the same size in the perfect shape and when a chef puts their own twist on a recipe, making it their creation.
PI: Your teacher told me you’re also co-president of the student council and editor of the yearbook. Can you tell me a little about those activities, and any more that you might be involved in?
LJ: I became the editor of yearbook this year because it is meaningful to have something to look back on and remember those people who were part of your Bridges family. I also enjoy being co-president of the student council because I want to make my school a better place, and I enjoy helping people.
PI: Do you hope for a future in the culinary world? What are your plans for after high school?
LJ: The culinary arts is definitely what I would love to study in the near future. I am looking at many colleges with culinary programs so I can get a degree in culinary arts.
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