An intense competition for high schoolers from the Northwestern corner of the state of Wisconsin showcased their best, most-glamourous dishes.The University of Wisconsin–Stout hosted its first culinary competition at the Great Hall in the Memorial Student Center (MSC). Brian Bergquist, a professor in the school of Hospitality and Leadership here at UW-Stout, hosted this successful event. The competition took place Feb. 8, with awards presented following the competition.
Bergquist felt that it was important to host this competition for high schoolers to help them practice regionally and gain practice before advancing to the next culinary competition. “I’ve been judging for 10 to 15 years for the state and national Prostart,” said Bergquist, “There isn’t a lot of attention in the Northwestern corner of Wisconsin. For some students, this is their sport. Many of them will be advancing to Milwaukee, WI, for state [championships] and maybe even Providence, Rhode Island.”
There were 10 teams in the running, and the winning teams were awarded scholarships. Bergquist is excited to see what the future holds for this competition, which will now be held annually.
Alyson Zwiefelhofer, one of the coaches and teachers at Bruce High School, shared her experience with this competition with her team. Zwiefelhofer, a family consumer health teacher at Bruce High School, has been teaching there for seven years. “I thought that this would be a good opportunity for my [advanced] students,” says Zwiefelhofer. This was their first time ever competing, but she believes that they did their best.
“The two [students] that are in this competition are competitive. There are school competitions that we do, but it’s their first time going out and actually competing against other schools. We’re all just having fun and are excited to see what our rate is against these other schools,” said Zwiefelhofer. The two Bruce High School student competitors were senior Drew Anderson and junior Kurt Chafer.
“I was nervous coming in and didn’t know what to expect, but once we started, I was in the zone; it was almost a sigh of relief,” said Anderson. This was Anderson and Chafer’s, who competed as a duo, first time at a culinary competition. Chafer said, “We were definitely more careful here than at school, and I was so nervous. I think once the judges came around to talk about our food, I felt a little more comfortable.”
“We’re from a smaller school, and everyone else in this competition is from a bigger school, so there’s obviously a little more pressure,” Anderson said.
The duo’s menu featured bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with a Sriracha glaze, roasted baby potatoes and an apple walnut salad with lemon poppy seed dressing. They tied for third place, and both Anderson and Chafer earned a scholarship from the win.
Alistair Tang, a hospitality student here at UW–Stout, was a receiving judge at this event and took photos of the competitors’ food. Tang explained that his duties were to make sure that all ingredients were meeting safety standards, as well as monitoring the competitors’ uniforms. His main focus was on the competitors’ safety and sanitation standards. Tang stressed the importance of having everyday cooking skills, even if it’s not something you want to pursue competitively.
“The event was a huge success,” Bergquist said, “The students did very well and were appreciative and happy about the event. We are thankful for our sponsors and are already planning for next year. For next year, we’re trying to make it a little more interactive and entertaining for viewers.”