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East High ProStart teamEast High School won first place at the Wisconsin ProStart Student Invitational Culinary Competition in Milwaukee on March 13, 2018 and will represent Wisconsin at the 17th Annual National ProStart Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island (April 27-29).

ProStart is the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF)’s high school culinary program. Each state has a ProStart competition, and the contenders at nationals will be the winning teams from each state.

Learn more about East High School's experience leading up to the state competition, in the words of Advisor Natalie Aguirre:

"The road to State was exciting! 

This is the 3rd team I've taken to the state competition - others were in 2010, 2016 (with Matt Pace and Taylor Anderson of Avenue Club/Food Fight as mentor chefs) when we placed 6th, and now this year.  

Students and the chef mentors put in quite a bit of time to prepare for the competition. We started in the fall working with some menu ideas. In January and the beginning of February we met weekly at the restaurant to perfect the menu, then about 4 weeks before competing we were meeting weekly at the restaurant and also weekly in my classroom to get down the logistics of setting up, etc. We also met at lunch times to work on knife skills and plating. There is also a lot of paperwork, such as typing the menus and costing out all the recipes, which took a lot of time.  

FoodFor the starter they made pan-seared corvina, black bean-sweet potato hash, coconut broth with cilantro mojo. The entree was jerk seasoned quail, duck fat masa cake, orange-avocado salad, cuban mustard, and plantain chips. Lastly, for dessert they made a Cuban Cappuccino Cake with orange-lime syrup, passion fruit sauce, whipped cream, blackberries, and basil (pictured at left).   

We felt pretty good about what we had. I thought we would be in the top 5 for sure, and the chef mentors kept saying we were going to win as long as the students did the work they needed to. Once they got the cooking techniques down, the remaining things were to practice the knife skills and to perfect the plating - especially of the dessert. 

On the day of the competition they nailed it on preparation of the meal. After they cooked, I felt pretty confident that they were in the top 3 and thought we might have first place. Badger High School (Lake Geneva) has been first in the state many times and is the team that most schools want to beat. When they started announcing the winners, they always start with 3rd place. They made the announcement that Badger had placed 3rd, and that's when it got real exciting for us. I realized then that we really had a chance of getting first place. Speaking for myself (and I think the team too), we were more nervous at that point than before the cooking part of the competition started! Then they announced that Cudahy High School had received 2nd place and we were on pins and needles. When they announced Madison East as first place we jumped up and cheered. It was cool, because we had a pretty good sized group there - parents, grandparents, our mentor chefs, and culinary teachers from Memorial and West (who didn't have a team, but were there to watch).

As a team we are grateful for all the work the mentor chefs have done to help us and are very excited about going to nationals and to represent Madison and East High School in this way."

- Natalie Aguirre, East High School Family and Consumer Education Teacher / Culinary Arts

Pictured above (left to right): Chef mentors Michelle Madden (Food Service Director, Stoughton Schools), Mark Walters and Ami Shimanek (Capitol Lakes); Team members Gabriel Wasserman, Hayden Cohan, Isaac Wasserman and Casey McCabe; Advisor Natalie Aguirre; Scott Schupbach of Gordon Food Service (the major event sponsor).

Related news stories:

Wisconsin State Journal: East High culinary team 'poised, professional' during national competition (5/1/18)

WKOW East H.S. culinary team wins state competition, heads to nationals 4/20

WORT: Madison East High School Sends Cooking Teens To National Competition (4/12/18)

Wisconsin State Journal: East High boys missing prom, cooking comes first (3/27/18)

WISC-TV: Madison East High School will represent Wisconsin in national culinary competition (3/16/18)