WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Four young chefs received real-world cooking experience Friday as they competed in Skills USA Wisconsin’s culinary state final at Northcentral Technical College.
The competitors, made up of high school and middle school students, put together meal courses under the tutelage of instructors from NTC and Waukesha County Technical College.
“I think it’s great there are people interested in culinary arts that want to compete and show their skills and continue to grow,” said NTC Culinary Instructor Chef John Reinke. “It’s a great opportunity for them to see our awesome facility.”
The state competition at NTC is in collaboration with Skills USA Wisconsin, which provides students across the state with competitions and events that help sharpen skills before joining the workforce.
“It’s a great way to get students into the labs and feeling like they’re in college, what it would feel like to be in college and experience these hands-on classes,” said Amy Kennedy, Events Coordinator for Skills USA Wisconsin. “This is just a small snippet of what they’re able to do.”
Many high school students practice their culinary passion at their homes, including Colby eighth-grader Brezlyn Boyer. For her, the chance to cook in a professional-level kitchen is an exciting opportunity.
“It’s definitely very fun to be able to take the experience you learned here and take it home and cook different meals,” said Boyer.
The Colby School District works with students to help them pursue some of the more unique extracurriculars.
“We have students that need a place to show off their talents,” said Colby Industrial Technology Instructor Kevin Koehler. “It doesn’t matter if it’s culinary or beautician or horseback riding.”
Koehler works with Boyer as her culinary instructor. He sends her home with meals to practice at home.
“The last couple recipes that she did, the last couple dinners turned out really beautifully,” said Koehler. “She’ll just take them home and cook them for her family and then come back and tell me what went right and what went wrong.”
”I think I just like being able to present things to people and having them be able to taste them,” said Boyer.
For ambitious young chefs like Boyer, the chance to receive instruction from professional chefs and experience the heat of the kitchen is rewarding.
”I’ve definitely learned different knife holds and the chefs gave me very good tips on what to do,” said Boyer. “It’s been really fun.”
“It is so super impressive,” said Koehler. “I wish I had more kids that would just go out and just do it. Don’t be afraid of what other people might think. Just go out and do it.”
The experience is equally as rewarding for the chefs giving the instruction.
“It’s a really neat experience,” said Reinke. “It’s a great experience for them to experience what the kitchen feels like.”
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