Diary of a Pro Start Competitor

Karrie Norton, Writer

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When we arrived at the conference center for The Pro Start Finals competition, we pulled out our equipment and quickly realized we had forgotten the sheet trays at the school, and during check-in, we realized our cutting boards had measurements (measurements aren’t allowed on equipment since knife cuts, which are based on measurements, is supposed to be relying on memory and skill alone) which meant we had no cutting boards or else we faced disqualification.

It seemed like after check-in, it was smooth sailing, other than our garbage cans out in the lobby, but we improvised with milk crates and plastic wrap. Everything seemed to go smoothly once our time started. We were ahead of time and everyone was on task.

Then it came to about 10 minutes left. Our appetizer person, Junior Acacia Swann, was in the cooler where we kept all the cold food like our produce and dairy,but the one thing we didn’t have was our avocado. Our avocado was used for the avocado puree on the appetizer plate, a fairly small but important part of the dish. So we were down an avocado, with nothing we could do to get another or fix it other than improvising with what we had.

We finished four minutes before our 60 minutes were up, and cleaned up our station. Then we waited for the tasting judges to call us in for critiques. I was nervous and honestly feeling defeated because without our avocado, we had no chance of going to the National competition.

It came to be our turn to face the judges and hear what we did right along with what we did very wrong. The first thing off their tongue was the taste of the avocado on the appetizer plate, they hadn’t realized it wasn’t avocado but they definitely knew it wasn’t right. Other than that critique, we had high marks for our presentation and the flavor across the board… other than the avocado replacement of course.

We packed up and headed home, feeling a strange sense of accomplishment and defeat. We came back to the foods room and cleaned our dishes and put our equipment away for the last time.

Though we only made it to the State Competition, we made it to State competition, and that itself is truly an accomplishment to be proud of. The hours of work and the dedication to each other and the menu, spending 60+ hours a week at the school, putting in emotional and physical effort in constantly.

I am glad that I spent my time on the team and I’m proud of the work we accomplished, and most importantly, I’m proud of my team.