CTE Students Prepare for Texas Culinary Competition
Posted on 02/09/2023
Sounds of sizzling delicacies and hints of aromatic buttery goodness quickly fill the air inside GCISD’s Career and Technical Education’s (CTE) professional kitchen every Thursday after school.

Since January, CTE students, under the leadership of their culinary arts instructor Amber Owens, have been firing up kitchen equipment, prepping ingredients and revamping recipes to prepare for the Texas ProStart Invitational, a culinary competition for high school teams that will take place March 24-26 in Waco, Texas. First place teams in the culinary and management competitions will advance to nationals.

“We set up the kitchen so they have a similar feel as to what they are going to experience at competition,” Owens said. “We time them. We have them practice the meal to make sure all the ingredients are fresh, keeping it in the right temperature parameters. It’s been an incredible experience to watch the team grow week to week. They learn on their own. They work together. They communicate.”

At competition, teams will have 60 minutes to cook a restaurant-quality appetizer, entree and dessert – two of each (one for presentation and another for judges to taste). Owens adds that students are learning more than just cooking: there’s science, presentation skills, professionalism and confidence building.

“The culinary arts program is a program of study within CTE’s Hospitality and Tourism cluster,” stated Candace McGowan, GCISD’s CTE coordinator. GCISD offers career clusters at the high school level in 11 areas:

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
Arts, Audio Visual Technology, and Communications
Business, Marketing, and Finance
Education and Training
Health Science
Hospitality and Tourism
Information Technology
Law and Public Services
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

In addition to the programs of study, CTE augments student learning by offering organizations, competitions, industry certifications and even internships. They also partner with local industry businesses. For example, thanks to a partnership with the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, students in the culinary arts practicum course this year had an opportunity to get real world hands-on experience.

“The program is designed to be career based,” Owens added. “Our approach in CTE is not ‘oh, here’s an elective.’ We are designing this to be a career-based program so that when you graduate you are ready to go into an industry, if you choose.”