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Edwards students cooking like pros

Wren Wertin
wren@vaildialy.com
Vail, Colo.
Battle Mountain Pro Start team, left to right, instructor Sharon Wible, students Rylee McMillin, 16, Daniel Woods, 16, Pearl Nanin, 18, Jeffery Fuller, 17, and culinary mentors Tom Walker and Paul Ferzacca revel in their victory at the Colorado ProStart Student Invitational competition in Denver yesterday.
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The pass was closed, but that didn’t stop Battle Mountain High School’s ProStart team from blazing into town, weighed down by gold medals and euphoria. Students Rylee McMilin, Daniel Woods, Pearl Nanin and Jeffery Fuller have the singular distinction of racking up 97 out of a possible 100 points at the Colorado ProStart Student Invitational, the highest score ever in the history of the competition.

They competed against 20 other groups in Denver, with the help of their instructor Sharon Wible and their mentors Paul Ferzacca and Tom Walker. The group will head to nationals later in the spring, testing its culinary mettle against the top winners from other states.

“These kids created three plates in under an hour on two propane burners with no electricity,” Ferzacca said. “Professional chefs would have to practice to beat these kids. Now, they wouldn’t have to practice as much since they’re experienced, but they’d still have to practice.”

“Everything went perfectly, better than I expected,” said Fuller. “Practices were a little bumpy, but everything went in our favor today.”

The group created a menu that included an olive-oil-poached striped bass escabeche with tempura shrimp, buffalo tenderloin with a dried cherry and pecan bread pudding and steamed chocolate pudding cake “s’mores” with homemade marshmallow and white oak bark ice cream. The menu was a collaborative process for the students.

“I really liked the beginning, when we chose our menu,” Nanin said. “Going through all the photos and deciding on the hardest one.”

Though it wasn’t a breeze, the kids were well prepared.

“The hardest part was getting past the nerves and all of the people watching you,” McMillin said. “You could feel the tension in the room – it was scary.”

“I’m extremely proud of them,” Wible said. “They really pulled it together.”

First course

Olive oil-poached Colorado striped bass escabeche with tempura shrimp and avocado, radish and micro cilantro salad.

Second course

Saigon cinnamon-scented buffalo tenderloin, Stranahams Colorado whiskey, dried cherry and pecan bread pudding, and Swiss chard, carrots, purple potato and a Colorado red chile sauce.

Third course

Steamed chocolate pudding cake “s’mores” with homemade marshmallow, graham cracker tile, and white oak bark ice cream.


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