Students take culinary skills to the next level

HARRINGTON — An unlikely partnership has flourished into tasty and lucrative business ventures for several Lake Forest High School students and graduates.

When the Harrington Raceway & Casino began looking for a connection within the Prostart program, a nationwide two-year curriculum that allows students to work closely with industry professionals, they were paired with a school cities away, according to Chief Operating Officer of Hospitality Hank Rosenberg.

Soon, however, the pairing was changed and history was made for several local students.

“To me, it’s a perfect partnership to work with Lake Forest,” he said. “It started off very well. It’s not just about the education. It’s about the community.”

Since the Prostart partnership between the high school and Harrington Raceway & Casino began two years ago, 13 Lake Forest students have been hired by the business, he added.

Mentors from the casino, at the leadership of D.J. Silicato, visit the high school twice a week to offer professional instruction on a variety of topics from knife and cooking skills to the importance of attendance and confidence.

Students enrolled in the program also have the opportunity to compete against other Prostart students across the state and possibly the nation.

Five Lake Forest High School students spent all day Tuesday, Feb. 28 preparing for the state competition at Bonz inside the casino alongside their mentors and a former graduate of the program.

They prepared a three-course meal for their families, teacher, school leaders, local legislators and industry professionals who all arrived around 6 p.m.

“It’s not just knife skills; it’s life skills,” President and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association Carrie Leishman said before the meal was served.

The competition will be held Friday, March 10 in Wilmington at the Chase Center. More than $1.9 million in scholarships have been offered thus far to students participating in the competition by leading institutions, according to Ms. Leishman.

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Kelly Haugh said the five students on Lake Forest’s Prostart team “readily accepted the challenge.”

She added, “It’s a lot of work – It’s nights; it’s weekends. And if there’s anything Prostart has taught me, it’s that no one achieves anything alone.”

One of the most important steps for Prostart students to make, Ms. Haugh said, was to get into the program in the first place. Most students present for the dinner Tuesday evening said they weren’t sure if the culinary field was right for them at first.

Junior Rebecca Queen was no different.

“I hadn’t heard of it before graduating a couple of years ago,” her sister Amanda Queen said after dinner. “It’s cool how they take passions the students have and roll with it.”

There are currently 120 students in the pathway at Lake Forest High School.

 

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