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Culinary journey to Baltimore earns SHS culinary team 26 out of 43

U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt Public Affairs
SCHWEINFURT, Germany | May 9, 2013

Schweinfurt High School's culinary team competed in the 12th Annual National ProStart Invitational competition held in Baltimore, Md., April 19-21. The team placed 26 out of 43 teams. From left, senior Jasmine Graves, sophomore Serena Polm, and seniors Lisa Stevens and Cheyana Toussaint.

Schweinfurt High School's culinary team competed in the 12th Annual National ProStart Invitational competition held in Baltimore, Md., April 19-21. The team placed 26 out of 43 teams. From left, senior Jasmine Graves, sophomore Serena Polm, and seniors Lisa Stevens and Cheyana Toussaint. | Photo: Hana McWilliams

Out of 43 teams the Schweinfurt High School culinary team placed 26th at the 12th Annual National ProStart Invitational competition held in Baltimore, Md., April 19-21.

Culinary team ingredients include sophomore Serena Polm and seniors Lisa Stevens, Jasmine Graves and Chéyana Toussaint.

Earlier this year the team competed in the All-Europe Culinary Faire where they took first place in the cooking competition, which granted them an automatic bid to compete in the ProStart Invitational.

It was the first time a team from DODEA-Europe competed in the competition, said Hana McWilliams, the culinary instructor for the team.

As the first culinary team from DODEA-Europe, their path to the States was peppered with obstacles.

"The fundraising was a big hurdle," said McWilliams. "We managed with half of the donations from our community and half of the sales of food items from catering and the student store. The total cost was between $8,000 and $9,000."

During the competition the culinary team was critiqued on taste, skill, teamwork, safety and sanitation. The team even had to make sure their station was well organized, despite the limited resources.

"Most of the teams brought large rolling racks with equipment and big tubs and boxes," said McWilliams. "We were pretty limited because we had to fly across an ocean."

Asked about any memorable moments from the competition, team members laughed. A burner must be turned on for water to boil, they smiled.

"She (McWilliams) said that she was still watching us when we didn't turn on our burner," said Toussaint. "Every 10 seconds saying they didn't turn on their burner yet, they still haven't noticed the burner, the burners are still off, when are they going to turn the burners on."

Stevens added, "I was asking about the water, like 'hey, how is it coming?' and was told it's not doing anything."

Toussaint said, "I lifted up the lid and I was like, the water is still not boiling. Then I was like, 'why is this water not boiling?' And I look and the burner was off. And I was like, well it might help if we turn the water on."

For most of the team members the culinary team has made an impact on their futures in culinary arts. Chéyana Toussaint will either attend the Art Institute of Atlanta or Le Cordon Bleu of Atlanta. Jasmine Graves is considering attending a culinary institution. Lisa Stevens placed that notion on the back burner, opting instead to study geology. And Serena Polm -- who has two years left in school -- would like to attend the Culinary Institute of America, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute or Le Cordon Bleu.

As only the second year as a high school, the culinary arts team here has demonstrated its competition excellence each year. During the school's first culinary competition the team earned gold in two categories at the All-Europe Culinary Faire.

"The best part of this year has definitely been developing the next generation of female chefs," said McWilliams. "I think that is really exciting."  

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