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Proof Is in the Pudding That Lejeune Students Have Right Stuff

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2009 – For the second consecutive year, the high school culinary arts team from Camp Lejeune, N.C., placed first in the annual Carolina ProStart Student Invitational.

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Members of Lejeune High School's Culinary Arts Team prepare a three-course meal as part of the 2009 Carolina ProStart Student Invitational held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Jan. 26 and 27, 2009. The five-member team was the state champ for the second year in a row. Courtesy photo

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A serious commitment, including late nights and weekend practice made perfect, said Shirley Bryan, a culinary arts teacher at Lejeune High School who supervises the team.

“This year’s team has many qualities that you may find only in serious adults. Their work ethics are beyond belief, and they work as a team,” she said. “Every one of the team members must know how to prepare each item on the menu.

“The students take pride in whatever they do, accept the challenge, and they just persevered,” she said, adding that a first place two years in a row is rare.

The team of four student chefs took first place in the invitational’s Culinary Competition by displaying their creativity in preparing a three-course meal in only 60 minutes. Their carrot slaw with vinaigrette and green onions; seared baby back ribs with sweet barbecue sauce with a kick; collard medley stir fried with onions, garlic, and seasoning; pork on a bed of candied sweet potatoes; and turnip roots got the judges’ attention. The meal was topped off with a homemade banana split martini for dessert.

That dessert earned them a rather catchy moniker, too. “They were referred to as the ‘Ice Cream Team,’ because they shared the duty of hand churning the ice cream maker,” Bryan said.

They also snagged a second in the Recipe Contest.

To accomplish this feat, the team had to come up with a use for Coach’s Low Country Boil Seasoning. What they created was a “Clucking Yeast Roll,” that used chicken stock in place of the water of the basic preparation method, along with the required seasoning.

The management team of four took third in the Case Study portion of the event, which tests students on their communication skills and their ability to apply their knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry to practical situations.

“Their success is what keeps me here, because I feel the numbers [of talented students] are enormous, and I want to facilitate as many as I can to realize their dreams and goals,” Bryan said.

The invitational, held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., gives students with proven skills and a commitment to the food service industry a chance to showcase their talents. It’s presented by the South Carolina Tourism and Hospitality Educational Foundation, and the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, in association with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

The winners of the 2009 Carolina ProStart Student Invitational went home with medals. The trophy, which goes home with each winning team, ended up making a round-trip from Camp Lejeune to Myrtle Beach and back. The team also earned a chance to compete in the National ProStart Invitational in San Diego from April 24 to 26.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMembers of Lejeune High School's Culinary Arts Team display the trophy they earned by winning the Culinary Competition at the 2009 Carolina ProStart Student Invitational held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Jan. 26 and 27, 2009. Courtesy photo   
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