Eating up the competition

Newport Harbor High's culinary and management teams both whip up first-place wins at national competition held in Kansas.

May 05, 2011|By Britney Barnes,
  • The Newport Harbor High School culinary and management teams took first place in their divisions at the National ProStar Invitational competition in Overland Park, Kan., over the weekend. This is the first time in the 10-year history of the event that the same school took top honors in each division. In the front row, from left, is Kelly Hackett, Eliza Stubbings and Jazmin Eck. In the back row, from left, is Kimberly Tessers, Jessenia Hernandez, Marcus McGee and Kellyn Perham. Not pictured is Luke Fischer.
The Newport Harbor High School culinary and management… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — With only first place left to be called in two categories, sophomore Kimberly Tessers' heart was pounding and, at another table, senior Jessenia Hernandez had her head in her hands.

The two teams were going to win it all or go home with nothing.

The management team's win was announced first. The culinary team didn't have to wait long to find out they were joining their peers as national champions, which Jessenia, 17, never thought could happen.

"We were in the middle of shaking all these judges' hands, and we just stopped and we ran to our other team and just started hugging," Kimberly, 15, said Wednesday morning at Newport Harbor High School. "We never thought it would be possible for us both to win."

Newport Harbor High's culinary and management teams represented California at the 10th annual National ProStart Invitational sponsored by the National Restaurant Assn. Educational Foundation over the weekend in Overland Park, Kan.


Eight students beat out more than 300 of their peers, who represented the best of the best across 40 states, to become the first school in the invitational's history to take both competitions.

The top teams walked away with $1.4 million in scholarships and Newport Harbor High students each had about a stack of them, Kimberly said.

The students received scholarships and offers of scholarships to attend specific schools that ranged from a few thousand dollars to a full ride, she said.

The culinary team, which includes Jessenia, Luke Fischer, Jazmin Eck, Kelly Hackett and Marcus McGee, and the management team of Kimberly, Kellyn Perham and Eliza Stubbing are in the advanced class, which is part of Coastline Regional Occupational Program's culinary arts program.

"The kids were … I can't even talk about it," said instructor Janet Dukes, almost in tears. "To have a perfect score in everything but the main course was phenomenal."

Fresh off wins in April's state competition, the teams were prepared with the same menu and restaurant concept at nationals, but the atmosphere was bigger and felt more intimidating, Kimberly said.

The management team had to sell a restaurant concept from menu to marketing, and everything in between, to a panel of judges and then face a critical thinking portion where they were drilled on how they would handle difficult scenarios that could arise in the restaurant field.

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