EDWARDS - Melissa Bosworth is about 5 feet 5 inches tall, but she knows how it must feel to slam dunk to beat Duke at the buzzer.
Bosworth is part of Battle Mountain High School’s state champion ProStart culinary team, along with Lucas Kern, Slaten Forbes, Armin Sandoval and Jenn Rascon.
For the second straight year, she scored a perfect 10-for-10 to help lead Battle Mountain to a state title.
Teacher Sharon Wible has headed Battle Mountain’s Prostart program for 11 years and has eight state titles. That makes her the John Wooden of kitchen coaches. Heather Weems has been around for most of that run. She’s with Colorado Mountain College’s culinary program.
The team heads to the nationals May 3-5 in Minneapolis. They’ll miss prom.
“That’s dedication,” Wible said.
They need to raise about $10,000 for their national title trip, and they’re looking for sponsors. They’ll put your logo on their chef’s coats, which cost $150 each, by the way. Those chef’s coats will be worn on national television, quite possibly by the national champions.
They’re willing to wear so many logos they’ll make NASCAR drivers envious, Wible said smiling.
The team, coaches, an alternate and all their gear need to make the trip to Minneapolis. They needed their alternate last year. Kern was hammered with the pneumonia and Forbes had to step in.
Interestingly, at this year’s states the competitors wore nothing that would give the judges any clue about what school they were from. It didn’t change anything. Battle Mountain won anyway.
They have four cooks, three courses to prepare, two burners and one goal. There’s lots of banter and joking — until the clock starts.
They have one hour from prep to plate, plenty of time but none to waste.
“When we have two minutes left we know where we need to be,” Sandoval said. “We’d better be on the plate.”
Three of them went to nationals last year: Bosworth, Kern and Forbes. Sandoval didn’t make the trip, but he’s ready for this year.
Slaten’s dad, Jeff Forbes, runs the Coyote Cafe and mentored the management team. Basically, how to run a restaurant, another big part of this year’s state title run.
Only a handful know what it’s like to compete for a national title, and most of that handful competes for Battle Mountain. Experience matters.
“We were pretty comfortable at states,” Kern said. “We know the drill.”
“Everyone said we looked calm. That’s because we were calm,” Sandoval said.
They’re not saying much about their menu at nationals. We know Bosworth will make pineapple upside down cake, and Kern will prepare venison. He struggled with it earlier in the year, he says.
Venison is like life, sort of. The key is not to overdo it, Kern said. When it’s overdone it’s pasty and dry. Weems taught him how to do it.
At nationals the judges are hovering around asking questions while the team is cooking. Last year, a judge asked Slaten if he knew what the pleats on his chef’s hat represented.
One pleat for each way he can cook an egg, Slaten said smiling.
They know every morsel of food and everything is prepared from scratch. They’re quizzed and judged on everything. Is their cart in the right order? Is their food the right temperature in the cooler? Are their knife cuts exact? It’s chemistry, it’s art, it’s science and they have to know it all.
ProStart is a project of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and state restaurant associations.
ProStart reaches more than 95,000 students in 1,900 high schools across 48 states, Guam and U.S. military bases. It teaches everything from culinary techniques to management skills through an industry-driven curriculum.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.