Pro-Start Students Learn Chef Skills

Over two days, high school culinary program students from across New Mexico gathered to practice their skills, learn techniques from chef educators and participate in a cooking contest.

The annual New Mexico Restaurant Association Pro-Start Boot Camp featured students working in the culinary laboratories at the East Mesa Campus of Doña Ana Community College (DACC). Chef Educators Tom Drake and James Lamoureux and Pastry Chef Educator Jenni Hart helped the high school students learn techniques and skills to help them in their culinary careers as well as the annual Pro-Start competition this spring. DACC culinary students also assisted the young aspiring chefs with advice and direction.

“The students did a great job over the two days,” said Business Department Chair Dr. Kim Seifert who oversaw the competition and taught a molecular gastronomy class. “The dishes they prepared and the presentations they made in the “Mystery Box” presentation were exceptional.”

Forty-two students from seven high schools participated in training seminars and practicums. They learned about different topics including, how to cook “sous vide,” menu design, recipe costing, how to make cake deco flowers and other topics that will help them in their future cooking careers. Their high school instructors also attended to support their students.

The “Mystery Box” was the competition held at the end of the second day to wrap-up the boot camp. A box contained ingredients the young students had to prepare and present to judges for feedback. The teams prepared 3 dishes:

  • Roasted roma tomatos, spinach and goat cheese crostini with a white balsamic reduction,
  • Sauteed chicken breast and mushroom sauce, served with mashed potatoes, zucchini, carrots and shallots,
  • Flavored sponge cake with berries and whipped cream.

Culinary students from Chaparral, Clovis, Deming, Gadsden, Grants, Las Cruces and Ruidoso participated in the event held January 17-18, 2020.

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