Local Teen Chefs Compete for State Championship

Roy High School teens compete in ProStart State Competition

(KUTV) Local teens are cooking up a storm for a chance to represent Utah in a national competition that pits young chefs against each other in the kitchen.

Eleven teams from around the state put their culinary skills to the test for the Teen Chef State Competition at the South Town Expo Center in Sandy on Wednesday.

The teams, typically made up of five students from 11 high schools, had 60 minutes to create a three-course meal, with judges from around the state reviewing technique and sampling the final product.

"My mom, my dad my sister, my family is here, this is nerve wracking," said Roy High School senior Sabrina Pledger.

Pledger and her teammates, Sam Anderson and Alex Gilchrist, only had three team members to compete this year, but say they were proud to win first place in the regional competition and compete at the state championships - the high school's first time qualifying.

"I don't feel like I'm working," Anderson said. "I'm having fun. It's not like I'm sitting at a computer all day writing essays, at school; I'm actually getting to do something."

Anderson was working on a complex part of a side dish, a mozzarella balloon, to wow the judges when time ran out.

"It's really hard," he said. "You put the mozzarella over a nozzle and fill it up, [and] it puts the dressing inside of that balloon."

The team went about one minute over the time limit, but they're still proud of the attempt, and so are their parents.

"To be able to accomplish something like this in a 60-minute time frame, get out an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, it's amazing," said Anderson's mother, who was snapping pictures in the audience as the team raced to finish.

Teens came from all over the state, including Cedar City High, Lone Peak High, Provo High, Timpanogos High, West Lake High, Tooele High, Park City High, Murray High, Bonneville High and Roy High School.

West Lake High School's management team won the state competition last year and went to nationals.

Steffani Raff, mom to one of West Lake High's team members, was cheering with a group in the audience, chanting: 'West Lake! West Lake!'

"They've got a great menu; it flows really great together," Raff said. "They've got a real shot."

The Utah Restaurant Association helped organize the annual teenage cooking state championship and management competitions. Every teen is part of a program called ProStart, which trains juniors and seniors in high school to enter careers in culinary or hospitality management in the restaurant industry.

The winning team will be announced Friday by ProStart. Win or lose, this competition can bring every teen one step closer to a future career.

"This is my life, this is what I'm going to be when I'm older," said Anderson, who wants to train as a chef at Utah Valley University after she graduates.

Seconded Pledger, "I'm so thankful I have this opportunity to take on this."

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