Junior Esmeralda Uribe competed in the Culinary Arts competition. She placed second in the state and will compete at the national level in June. She was also named a state officer.
Chef Clyde Rush said Uribe’s win surprised him.
“It is not because I didn’t know she was a good upcoming chef,” Rush said. “It was like, this is her first year and I’d never seen her in competition before.”
Uribe prepared for the four-hour competition in the commercial-style kitchen at the high school. She practiced knife cuts and learned the various sauces needed for the test of skill. The ProStart competition occurred two weeks prior to SkillsUSA. It allowed her an opportunity to gain real-life experience.
According to Rush, the Culinary Arts contestants had to fabricate (properly butcher) a chicken, demonstrate knife cuts and produce a soup, entrée, two side vegetables, a salad and a simple dessert. The students received recipes and the needed ingredients. Variations were seen in the level of skill, the spices and the presentation of the food.
Uribe’s second-place win won her scholarships from four schools: Sullivan University, Art Institute of Tennessee in Nashville, the Culinary Institute of America and Tennessee College of Applied Technology. The scholarships vary in amount.
Rush explained each scholarship is only applicable to its college. Further money could be forthcoming, if Uribe places at nationals.
The junior’s win has encouraged her classmates and SkillsUSA teammates to work harder for next year’s competition.
Rush said the competition was a good experience for everyone who attended.
“They had to see what they were going up against. Now they have practice,” Rush said. “We aren’t just talking about it.”
Six culinary arts students attended the conference with Uribe. They were Chip Shellhouse, Lindsay Hall and Jasmine McCurry competed in the community service competition; Maria Fuentes, restaurant service; Andrew Lau, commercial baking; and David Donan, job skills demo open.
“It is very professional,” Rush said. “They all have to be professionally dressed and those who did the community service had to wear their red jackets. Those who were in the culinary arts competition had to wear their uniforms.”
Several of the students remained a part of the SkillsUSA team in spite of being out of the culinary arts class during the spring semester. About four students left the team when they moved on to a different class. Rush is interested in more students joining the team next year.
A team of students from Cleveland High School’s broadcasting program also competed at the state SkillsUSA competition. The group placed first, but members were unable to attend due to travel-related costs.
Rush would like to see the community gain an interest in Cleveland High’s involvement in the annual competition.
“I want the students to get involved, and I want the community to be aware of it,” he said. “When we have a lot of students make it to nationals next year, then we will have community support.”