Okkodo High School seniors Ella Mae Tinoso, Xela Marie Olivario, Hennessy Sanchez, and Jim Mangligot are headed to Charleston, South Carolina, to compete in the 2017 National ProStart Invitational April 28-30.
The four won the GCC CTE High School ProStart competition back in February, securing their spot in the national competition, where Simon Sanchez High School put Guam on the high school culinary map in 2013 and 2014 by being the only team ever to win the competition two years in a row.
Vicky Schrage, GCC Tourism & Hospitality Department chair and the SSHS ProStart instructor for the two-time national championship teams, has high hopes for the four students from Okkodo in this year’s competition.
“We realize that everyone will be watching Guam, but the three ladies on the team have been together in ProStart since sophomore year, and with Jim (Mangligot), they are a solid team that is sure to wow the competition,” Schrage said. “And Chef Peter Duenas is back as our mentor chef. He was our mentor chef when we won nationals both times, so we feel very ‘seasoned,” she said.
Chef Kennylyn Miranda is the Okkodo ProStart instructor, as well as a GCC Culinary Art graduate. “We’ve been working hard since February, and this team is ready,” she said of heading to the competition.
ProStart is the career and technical education program in Guam’s public high schools that feeds into GCC’s Culinary Arts program, which produces many of the island’s amazing chefs.
The national ProStart program is supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), and focuses on teaching culinary arts and restaurant management fundamentals through a combination of classroom and industry instruction. At this year’s competition, NRAEF says nearly 400 students will put their skills to the test in front of culinary and restaurant business leaders, family, and friends. The top five teams from the culinary and management competitions will earn coveted scholarships to continue their restaurant or foodservice education.
Schrage noted that since the entire Okkodo team is comprised of seniors, they have already each earned a $3,000 scholarship from the Art Institutes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to further their culinary studies after high school.
“We were informed by NRAEF that the Art Institutes is awarding winners of this year’s local competition who are graduating seniors with a $3,000 scholarship each, to further their culinary careers,” Schrage said. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years, for a maximum of $12,000, according to Schrage.