Culinary students stirring up competition

NASHUA – Culinary arts students hoping to win next week’s statewide competition will be in a bit of a pressure cooker, as they will be required to bake for nearly eight straight hours.

The event is set for Wednesday and Thursday at Nashua High School North. Ongoing practices are run by North culinary arts teacher Dave Quimby and Alvirne High School culinary arts teacher David Bressler. Quimby and Bressler combine their practices so their students can get two perspectives on their work. Despite the fact the two schools share a practice space, the students will be competing against each other next week.

The state competition is a two-day event that focuses on many different areas. Wednesday, students from throughout New Hampshire will travel to North for the state baking competition. During this activity, students are required to bake for seven and a half consecutive hours. Quimby said students produce a variety of food items during this time. This year, they will be making blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, yeast breads, pastries, chocolate eclairs and cakes.

Thursday, the state culinary competition will take place at North. This competition includes tasks such a demonstration of knife skills, preparing a vinaigrette salad dressing, making a composed salad and producing two plates that will be analyzed.

There will be eight to 10 judges who will critique students on everything from the taste of their food, to organization, to how students carry themselves, to their presentation of plates, to their overall work and time management.

Culinary student and junior Elizabeth Deck cuts a cake she made in Nashua High School North’s kitchen. Deck is practicing for the state baking and culinary competition which will take place at the school next week.

Quimby said there will be 16 high schools competing in the baking competition and 15 in the culinary competition. Students from each program will then be chosen for the national competition.

Last year both North and Alvirne’s culinary programs sent competitors to the national competition. As with last year, state winners win advance to the national competition, known as The SkillsUSA Championships, which takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.

Students have been working hard in the meantime to sharpen their skills. Quimby said a few weeks ago, he hosted a practice during which the students went through the entire competition as a test run. This allowed students to see their strengths and weaknesses, and decide where they could go from there.

The students entered one of their final after-school practices Wednesday.

Junior Elizabeth Deck said she is nervous about the aspect of time for the competition next week, but feels confident.

Senior Lineus Eriksson said he is excited for the plated dinner portion of the competition. Eriksson plans on making a sauteed chicken dish.

Seniors Molly Ringle and Corinne Goodrow both attend Merrimack High School, but are able to participate in North’s culinary program. Though nervous, Ringle said she is prepared, as this competition is what she wants to see.

Goodrow said there has been a lot of hype leading up to the competition, but she is excited for it.

“(Quimby) has been a huge help and really helps us better our skills,” Goodrow said.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.