Sanchez is 5-time local ProStart champ

by .
Guam Community College

“There’s no formula, no secret. It’s all about working hard, and these kids worked hard.”

That’s how two-time national champion ProStart coach Vicky Schrage summed up her Simon Sanchez High School ProStart team’s fifth local ProStart competition win today. “They’re hungry for this, so they worked hard.

The team, headed by returning national champion and captain Abigail Pineda and fellow seniors Jommel Carlos, Ramses McNeil, and Mark-Tyler Toves, is going to Disneyland. That’s where the 14th Annual National ProStart Invitational – the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts – will take place April 18-20, at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

“I feel very overwhelmed right now. I didn’t expect to win. We had obstacles with our check-in and our knife skills, so I’m really flabbergasted,” she said. Apparently the team’s appetizer of glazed frenched chicken wings; main course of stuffed chicken leg “Ballotine” (braised chicken legs stuffed with seasoned pork, served with coconut red Thai curry, “Buerre Blanc” coconut mango rice, grilled bokchoy, and shiitake mushroom; and stunning dessert of chocolate raspberry lava cake served on an elaborate chocolate and raspberry lace icing design, was enough to overcome those details.

As for heading to nationals to defend two consecutive championships, Pineda is under no illusions. She knows the other teams will be out to dethrone the Guam team. “As long as we try our best and have our heads in the game, I’m confident,” she said.

“They have us in the cross-hairs,” mentor chef and MCA President Peter Duenas told the Sanchez team when meeting with them after the competition. He went over the ground rules of their training for nationals. “If you’re late, you don’t practice. If you’re late at nationals, you don’t compete. It’s a little like the Army, only worse,” he said to them of the training they will undergo for the national competition.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Duenas said. “The way I approached it last year was that there was no way we were going to win again, so we just worked as hard as we could and stayed the course.”

But they did win again – the first back-to-back championship ever in the national competition. “I can’t guarantee another win, but we’ll do our best,” he said.

Sanchez received $2,500 for the students’ travel expenses today from Fonterra, the world’s largest exporter of dairy products, through its distributor Micronesian Brokers Inc. (MBI).

“Fonterra has been a great supporter of our postsecondary program through scholarships and donations, and we are very grateful for their added support of our ProStart program this year,” said Norman Aguilar, GCC Tourism Department chair.

Southern High School took second place in today’s competition; John F. Kennedy High School came in third, and Okkodo, the new kid on the ProStart block, rounded out the competition in fourth place.

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