DODEA Pacific hosts Far East Culinary Arts competition
OKINAWA, Japan — The Kubasaki High School culinary arts team overcame several obstacles to win DoDEA Pacific’s 2013-14 Far East Culinary Arts competition Feb. 5-6 at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Kubasaki HS’s team of four seniors, Christian Jemmott, Tyesha Butler, Angel Washam, and Karen Robinson worked together and were determined to reach their goal although they faced sickness and lost cooking equipment.
“We had multiple things that went wrong, and we just barely got it together literally minutes before the competition began,” said Jemmott. “There were so many obstacles that we overcame because we kept each other’s heads up and didn’t give up.”
Kubasaki, Kinnick, Kadena, Seoul American and Edgren High School teams had one hour to prepare a three-course meal using two butane burners. They were judged by culinary professionals on their knife skills, teamwork, sanitation, menu presentation, and taste. Kubasaki HS’s team qualified for the National ProStart Invitational® which will be held May 3-5 in Minneapolis, MN.
“We had a great group of young people, and I was truly inspired by the camaraderie between the teams,” said Krista Hurley, Career Technical Education coordinator. “Students from different teams went grocery shopping together, ate together, and generally socialized with each throughout the event. Likewise, the teacher-coaches were genuinely supportive of each other and took time to share teaching strategies and program ideas.”
Hurley added that the most rewarding part of this year’s event was watching how smoothly it all came together with a “Get ‘er done!” attitude.
Kubasaki HS’s team prepared Okinawan soba with braised pork belly for an appetizer, mashed purple and white sweet potato with shiquasa, marinated tuna seared with a side of vegetable tempura for the entrée and a white chocolate mousse filled crepe with macerated fruit.
“We practiced the menu several times before competition to perfect it (but) meeting every requirement and meeting each expectation without breaking rules was quite the challenge,” Butler said. “We had a tight schedule to follow.”
Washam said their menu was based on an Okinawan theme because “we wanted to bring familiar food to mainland.” His experience gained in previous competitions and in school sealed their menu decision.
“Last year when I was taking Culinary I, we learned the basics of cooking,” Washam added. “We then had a competition called the Iron Dragon that changed everything for me. Everything we learned was applied in this competition, and it brought my team to victory.”
Robinson’s inspiration came from her mother who she always cooks with. This experience along with two years of culinary in school brought excellent support to the Kubasaki team.
“The menu was simple, but the goal of getting it done in an hour was very difficult,” said Robinson. “We’ve been preparing for this menu since January, so we were completely prepared at the event.
“All the downfall and mistakes we had made prior to the competition had a great impact on us. We had to overcome major setbacks with me being sick the week before competition, not having our equipment and ingredients, and all the late nights.”
Hurley added that DoDEA Pacific is very excited to be sending a team to the national competition for the first time and wishes the Kubasaki team much success as they prepare for the next phase of this journey.
About National Prostart Invitational®:
The National ProStart Invitational® is the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. The 13th Annual National ProStart Invitational® will bring together the top ProStart® students from 43 states and territories to showcase their talent, passion and skill in Minneapolis, MN, from May 3-5. The winning teams will take home $1.4 million in scholarship funds. Learn more about ProStart®: http://www.nraef.org/ProStart/Invitational
About DoDEA Pacific:
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, Department of Defense schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America’s heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific’s 50 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.