Whisking their way to the top

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With food in the making, the hot foods team of ProStart, Seniors Tyler Knickmayer, Destin Simmons, CJ Miller, Junior Alex Hasakian and Sophomore Samantha Giannantonio, compete in front of judges for a winning title.  (Photo courtesy of Samantha Giannantonio)
With food in the making, the hot foods team of ProStart, seniors Tyler Knickmayer, Destin Simmons, CJ Miller, junior Alex Hasakian and sophomore Samantha Giannantonio, compete in front of judges for a winning title. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Giannantonio)

By Catelin Owens

With a dedicated team, Mary Ferrari has taken the students in the ProStart program to Nationals, where they won awards in four categories. Ferrari will be attending a ceremony in Chicago on May 19 for winning the ProStart Teacher of the Year award.

ProStart is the highest national culinary competition for high school students, where over 1,900 high school students compete in front of restaurant industry leaders. Ferrari has been teaching Coronado’s Culinary Arts and mentoring the ProStart program for the past two years.

At the competition students are given a very small space that consists of one stainless steel table with storage underneath for equipment, and two small burners. Competitors have to provide an appetizer, entree, dessert and create a chicken dish in one hour.

“We worked really well as a team and having that bond really helped us succeed in competition,” Samantha Giannantonio, sophomore, said. “We practiced everyday after school until 8:00, and we even practiced on weekends. Those practices were all worth it and really helped us step up in competition.”

Ferrari has been teaching Coronado’s Culinary Arts and mentoring the ProStart program for the past two years. Before she was a teacher, Ferrari produced chocolates out of her kitchen to several different stores locally and eventually opened a factory because her chocolates were on high demand. The name of her chocolate company all started when she was young and her dad said the only way that a “Flibbertigibbet” would come to them and stay was if they were quiet. Therefore, she named her company “Flibbertigibbet”.

“It’s like watching them dance. They can’t bump into each other, they can’t step on each other’s toes, and they have to follow the right protocol. Part of competition is learning from your mistakes as you go along. Obviously you don’t enter these competitions without a desire to win. Everyone wants to win. You learn what you do right and what you do wrong, and then you go and bring it for the rest of your life,” Ferrari said.