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ThunderRidge student competes in ProStart Chopped-style competition; Celebrity Chef Maneet Chauhan gives students pointers

HIGHLANDS RANCH – A ProStart cooking competition can be very stressful for student-chefs, but it is even tougher when you’ve got culinary genius from the Food Network’s “Chopped” television show, looking over your shoulder.
Award-winning chef Maneet Chauhan visited ThunderRidge High School (TRHS) on Monday May 13 to judge Colorado’s ProStart Cutting Edge competition featuring TRHS senior Nick Sabina, Boulder High School’s Dakotah Fozzard and Sabrina Nunez from Standley Lake High School.
“It was absolutely outstanding, definitely the highlight of the day,” Sabina said. “I watch “Chopped” all the time.”
In addition to whipping up a culinary masterpiece in the course of only 40 minutes, Sabina and the other students also had to manage the stress of knowing that their cooking will be featured on national television. A crew conducted interviews and then captured the students as they were at work in the kitchen.
“It's a lot to take in one day, but I think I'll be okay. I'm feeling ready to go,” Sabina said seconds before the competition began.
Nick seared steak tenderloin with sweet corn cakes, roasted beets and a tomato-apple gastric sauce.
“In the kitchen, I'm pretty calm. I don't really get nervous,” Sabina said. “I'm very confident. I'm hoping to win.”
After nearly an hour of dicing, searing and baking all three students turned in mouth-watering entrées.
“Amazing,” Chauhan said as she eyed the finished plates. “I'm hungry. Three extremely distinct, delicious-looking plates.”
After tasting the work of all three student-chefs, she and the other judges said they were impressed by the quality of all of the dishes.
“The dishes we got today were just spectacular,” Chauhan said. “The thought process behind it. It was each and every compliment. The sauce, flavors, are so well rounded. I was so proud of these kids.”
“That is not what we saw across the nation. There were some spectacular dishes and then there were some dishes which needed a lot of work,” Chauhan added.
Elway’s Culinary Director Tylar Wiard joined Chauhan as a judge in the competition and echoed her remarks.
“It's amazing to see high school students produce quality dishes like this that absolutely, you can go into a restaurant in Denver, Colorado and you would never know it was coming from a high school, ProStart student” Wiard said.
“I am excited knowing that the future of our industry is going to be in such capable hands,” Chauhan said.
In the end, the judges selected the entrée presented by Dakotah Fozzard from Boulder High School. She was awarded set of Gunter Wilhelm knives and may be selected to visit Washington, D.C. with other finalists to spend the day cooking with one of the featured chefs of the White House Chef Tour.
Chauhan partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to take part in high school ProStart Chopped-style cooking competitions, as part of a national tour to launch her new book, Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries.
“We’re honored to have been selected as the site for Colorado’s Cutting Edge competition,” said TRHS ProStart Teacher Katy Waskey, 
TRHS’ ProStart program is definitely on the map, attracting students throughout the District as well as open-enrollees.  In addition to teachers passionate about the 2-year culinary arts sprinkled with business management course, TRHS is fortunate to have solid leadership from DCSD Chef Jason K. Morse, who was recently named Colorado ProStart Mentor of the Year.
Waskey noted students in the Pro-Start program gain “real-life application skills” with roughly 50% moving into the culinary field while 25% pursue business management. 
“ProStart adds more choices for students. I’m thankful we have the opportunity to offer students this unique option. The culinary industry is growing and many who are exposed through this college-level course will want to pursue it as a career,” said TRHS ProStart Teacher Aryann Roberts.
Nationwide, ProStart brings the industry and the classroom together to give 95,000 students nationwide a platform to discover new interests and talents, while opening doors to fulfilling careers. With national and local support from industry members, educators, the NRAEF and state restaurant associations, ProStart is taught in 1,700 schools. 

For more information on the ProStart program, visit or find us on Twitter or Facebook. Watch live streaming of the NRAEF’s 12th Annual National ProStart Invitational at

May 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category: Communications

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