The following comes from the office of State Rep. David Rutigliano:
New Haven — Julienne, Paysanne, Chiffonade: These are some of the knife cuts that Connecticut high school students had to demonstrate at the 2015, Connecticut Pro Start Invitational, Feb 27 at Gateway Community College.
Culinary students from Wilbur Cross High School, and New Britain High School competed against one another in a wide array of cooking and kitchen tasks for trophies and accolades from local chefs.
Dozens of audience members attended the event to cheer on the students, learn about culinary arts, and to witness Wilbur Cross winning the competition for the second straight year.
Rep. Dave Rutigliano (R-123), Nicole Lee from Fresh Point wholesale produce company, and Tony Merchitto from Temple Grill, joined Gateway College Chefs to judge the competition.
“I’m proud of these kids. They’ve worked hard to get here. Learning these skills, and working in a kitchen can open a lot of doorways for them,” said Rep. Rutigliano.
The students were judged in categories ranging from knife skills to the production of three course meals, to clean-up and overall management.
Lee repeatedly pointed out to the students’ the important of sanitizing their cutting boards and preparation areas. “I’m going to keep bringing up how important it is for you to not cross contaminate,” she told the students.
New Britain’s meal menu included crostini with prosciutto, apricot jam and goat cheese; chicken with mustard sauce; sinful side sweet potato hash; steamed green beans with garlic; tropical ice cream parfait.
The Wilbur Cross menu included, classic New England seafood cake; rosemary garlic lamb; rich chocolate mousse.
Last year over $100,000 in scholarships were awarded at the Connecticut Pro Start Student Invitational. The Connecticut Restaurant Association & the Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation sponsored this year’s competition.
“It’s an excellent way for the teams to showcase all their hard work and everything they have learned. The culinary world is full of talented students,” said Nicole Griffin, Executive Director of The Connecticut Restaurant Association.
Rep. Rutigliano is currently on the board of the Connecticut Hospitality and Education Foundation.
“My first job was in a kitchen, washing dishes,” he said. “Fortunately I was given a chance to learn cooking skills, like these kids. I hope that these kids keep up the good work and continue practicing their skills. There are always cooking jobs available,” he said.
The Wilbur Cross team will travel to Disneyland in California to compete in the National ProStart Invitational April 18-21, 2015.