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AHS culinary students win state competition
ARLINGTON On April 28, the Arlington High School culinary class students reported to the Arlington School District Board of Directors that they'd placed first overall at the 2008 Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation ProStart Invitational Culinary Competition in Spokane, March 6-8.
AHS seniors Ruslan Bizyayeva and Samuel Howard served on the culinary team. Fellow seniors Charles Ewell, Lindsey Kehoe and Kelly Rutt served on the restaurant management team, and sophomore Katy Pomeroy and senior Tyler Haskins served on both. The culinary team placed seventh, while the restaurant management team placed third.
"If we'd won first place in either category, we'd be heading to nationals this year," said AHS culinary class teacher Dorothy Edwards, who praised the students for placing as well as they did statewide. Last year, the AHS culinary class students traveled to Charlotte, N.C., to represent the state of Washington in the National ProStart Student Invitational, where they ranked 19th nationwide.
The state competition challenged the culinary team to design not only an appetizer, entree and dessert, but also a menu, costs and recipes for their food. They were given 60 minutes to prepare a timed meal, and 30 minutes to demonstrate their knife skills.
As for the restaurant management team, they were presented with a real-life example of a problem in a restaurant setting, which a panel of food service professionals asked them to solve in 20 minutes, and present their solution in 10 minutes. A printed exam followed, and the top teams moved on to a "Jeopardy!" style final round.
Pomeroy and Rutt were the only first-year culinary class students at the competition, and Pomeroy was the only culinary class student at the competition who wasn't a senior. With graduation rapidly approaching for the rest, scholarships have become more immediate concerns, but Edwards explained that her students have relatively little to worry about in that area. The total amount of scholarships awarded to her students this year adds up to more than $225,000.
Bizyayeva is planning to attend the Art Institute of Seattle, Kehoe is planning to attend Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, and Haskins is considering both. Howard is heading to Skagit Community College, while Pomeroy is considering Washington State University and the University of Texas. While Rutt is still exploring her options, Ewell has made up his mind to join the Coast Guard.
The students' career plans are just as diverse. Bizyayeva, Ewell and Haskins all ultimately hope to open restaurants, although Ewell intends to make a career out of rescue swimming first, and Haskins would like to work on cruise liners before opening his restaurant. Howard is content to work in the restaurant industry, while Kehoe is aiming for a future as an events coordinator. As for Pomeroy, she's considering being an athletic trainer or a sports nutritionist.
When asked what attracted them to the culinary arts, the students cited the creativity and social nature of the work.
"You have to be passionate," Bizyayeva said. "It's a stressful field, but it's attractive. I can't explain why."
"A small class like ours becomes a family," Pomeroy said. "It forces you to get along and to learn to stand up for yourself."
"It goes beyond book work," Kehoe said. "It's more hands-on. You can actually look at what you've created. The culinary arts are all about other people and how you make them feel."
"You can be creative in how you design meals," Howard said.
"Plus, we're all going to have to feed ourselves at some point," Ewell said.