Winners named in this year’s CHS culinary competition |

Winners named in this year’s CHS culinary competition

Michelle Palmer
Special to the Appeal
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Carson High School senior Rachael Neitzke builds a "citrus tower" during the ProStart competition at Carson High School Wed. Jan. 11, 2006.

It’s been since September when the 14 competing teams first formed and were given their assignments for this year’s National Restaurant Association ProStart competition, which was held on Jan. 11.

They all have the same rules and regulations, with a 10-minute organization and one hour to prepare an appetizer, main dish (containing protein food, starch and vegetable) and a dessert.

So many Americans overeat today. Just look at the waistlines of most while you are shopping, then look at what is in their cart. I don’t think most know what the right portion size is, especially when we have so many buffets in Nevada.

These students really have to know their stuff. Did you know that if you were to have the correct amount of food on your plate for dinner, it would be just about one pound – and that is without the soup or salad or the dessert. WE NEED TO KNOW PORTION SIZE!

Sorry, got on my soap box for a minute (keep in mind I was once obese, and my dad died from obesity).

Needless to say, when I judge these students, who are learning a lot from this competition, I keep a close eye on not just the potential job opportunity they may have, but the life skills that they are also learning.

Some of them, believe it or not, are in culinary so they can learn to cook for themselves, which is great. Just for them to get up enough gumption to enter a contest is fantastic.

I know I am hard on them, and they know my reputation for that; however, I want to teach them something. I am always amazed at their talent, and I always end up learning something from them, too!

I think this is my sixth year as a judge, and, whoa, it’s been fantastic. They not only have to create a menu and cook it in front of all of us and their families and fellow students, but we get to ask them questions while the cook to see if they can multitask.

What is the temperature of the chicken when it is done? How long has that been out of the refrigerator? What’s in your sanitation bucket? How many parts per million … etc. The competition was tight – we could really tell who practiced and who didn’t.

The winning team was Team 3 consisting of Racheal Neitzke, Tiffany Fether, Kelly Taylor and Ashley Strandridge.

Their menu started with the Ahi Tuna with Parmesan Shell; Orzo and Shrimp Enhanced with a Creamy Parmesan Sauce, finished with White Cheesecake Fruit Tower.

Second place went to Team 1 consisting of Andrew Coleman, Troy Szczotaka, David Rikalo and Kirsten Dhu.

Their menu composition was Spinach and Potato Roulade, Vegetable Beet Couscous and Tuiles Cookies.

Third place went to team No. 11.

The thought that went into the top teams stood out even with their presentations. The dessert was very interesting, and I will be sharing that recipe.

— Michelle Palmer is a consultant and “chef for hire.” She owns Artisan Eats in Carson City and Absolutely Michelle’s in Reno. Contact her at, 884-FOOD or 849-2333.