Sanchez to defend national culinary title
For four years in a row now, the ProStart team from Simon Sanchez High School has cooked its way to the top of the local high school culinary competition. Last year, the team won the national championship, and after today’s victory, they are headed to Minneapolis, Minnesota in May to defend their title.
“We’re gonna have to take it to another level,” said team captain and senior Mac Daniel Dimla, the only returning member of last year’s championship team. “We’ll have to develop new techniques and have a new plan of attack.”
“It’s the students,” said Vicky Schrage, Sanchez ProStart instructor. “If they do well, they will gain all the scholarships and opportunities. It is my job to prepare them, but this is about them,” she said.
Right from the start the team is performing at a different level, because Dimla was joined in today’s competition by only two other members, junior Abigail Pineda and sophomore Rhozlyn Javier. They beat second place JFK, third place GW, and fourth place Southern high school ProStart teams, who each competed with the traditional four members. Because the fourth member of the Sanchez team had to quit the team before the competition, they made do with just three members.
“Now we have more pressure,” said Dimla, who upon graduation this year will head to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California on a partial scholarship that he won as a member of last year’s national championship team. The top ProStart teams at the national competition take home $1.4 million in scholarship dollars, according to the ProStart web site http://www.nraef.org/ProStart/Invitational.
“It’s considered the Harvard of culinary schools,” said Schrage.
ProStart is one of the 10 CTE programs GCC offers in Guam’s five public high schools (Okkodo is scheduled to have a kitchen and a ProStart program next school year).
Sanchez will head to Minneapolis May 3-5 to defend their national title at the 13th Annual National ProStart Invitational.
Today’s competition required each team to prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners. This year’s judges included Chef Myra Tiamzon from the Hyatt Regency Guam (also a JFK ProStart graduate); Chef JR Tata from Outrigger Resort, Chef Leland Feng from Guam Marriot Resort; Chef Daniel Lenherr, Westin Resort; Chef Eddie Chien, Delmonicos; Chef Peter Duenas, Meskla Restaurant; Chef Bertrand Haurillon, Le Tasi Bakery; Chef Arthur Zantua, New Fresh Bread Bakery; Chef Rey Desalla, Seagrill Restaurant; and Ken Stewart, Guam Food Guy.
Before the winner was announced, Chef Sang told the competitors, “You are all winners. Stay true to your passion, and cook from your heart.”