Culinary students headed to national competition |

Culinary students headed to national competition

YouthEntity's ProStart state champion team members, center from left, Justice Wofford, Leah Allen, Mauricio Sosa and Lily Janssen, with Sonia Riggs, left, president and CEO for the Colorado Restaurant Association, and at right, Suzy Chiappetta, business resource manager for Sysco Denver.
Provided |

YouthEntity’s culinary arts program is having a great season on the competition front.

Coming off of a first-time win at the Western Regional Competition in Grand Junction, the YouthEntity team set its sights on the Colorado ProStart Invitational at Johnson & Wales University earlier this month.

The four-person team came away with first place in Culinary Arts and first in Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts, which combined earned them the Sysco Hospitality Cup.

YouthEntity’s team is made up of Leah Allen and Justice Wofford from Roaring Fork High School, Lily Janssen from Bridges High School, and Mauricio Sosa from Basalt High School.

At the state invitational, students competed for part of $800,000 in scholarship money. The eight-member YouthEntity team earned $250,000, and four of those students will advance to the National ProStart Invitational in Dallas April 28 through May 1.

“If someone had told me years ago that YouthEntity would have one of the leading restaurant management and culinary arts programs in the country for high school students, I would have said they were out of their mind,” YouthEntity founder and Executive Director Kirsten Petre McDaniel said.

“What started as a small program as a result of a YouthEntity survey conducted at Roaring Fork High School years ago has become a passion,” she said.

At the state competition, students cooked three dishes for the judges in just 60 minutes with no electricity and only two burners.

Their ingredients: Sautéed sweetbreads, foraged mushrooms and spring peas, heirloom potato chips, lemon chive emulsion; braised veal cheeks, house-made gnocchi with Swiss chard and root vegetable crisps, Cabernet reduction; praline mousse bombe in a dark chocolate cage, a duet of raspberry and mango coulis, vanilla bean panna cotta and pistachio caramel.

YouthEntity also picked up third place in Restaurant Management. Students Hunter Apostolik (Glenwood Springs High School), Maddie Feder (Roaring Fork), Alanna Martinez (Roaring Fork) and Leslie Padilla (Glenwood Springs) presented their restaurant concept “Street Eats Asian” to judges, featuring a contemporary, indoor street food eatery with foods from Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia.

The students submitted a written business plan and were tested on their critical thinking skills.

In addition to Petre McDaniel and ProStart chef instructor Matt Maier, several people in the local food service industry assist the YouthEntity team, including Eric Scharfenberger of Chili’s, Jonathan Fillman of The Little Nell, Andreas Fischbacher of Allegria, Gerry McDaniel of McD Restaurant Group and Chris Norvell of Epicurious Catering.

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