The Pocahontas County High School ProStart Team traveled to Mylan Park in Morgantown last Friday to participate in the Third Annual Junior Cast Iron Cook-off Challenge.
The Cast Iron Cook-Off is a cooking challenge where teams from different schools in the state compete against each other in a Chopped-style battle to see which school is the most efficient in teamwork and showmanship and, of course, the taste test.
The PCHS team was made up of seven-year ProStart teacher Teresa Mullen, PCHS cook Kim McComb, seniors Brandal Carr and Britteny Sharp, and junior Amber Pritt.
The competition consisted of cooking a three course meal, and the contestants had specific mystery ingredients that they were required to use.
“It was kind of stressful for the kids,” Mullen said. “You didn’t have a clue what you are going to prepare until they showed you the mystery ingredients. But they handled it extremely well. We knew ahead of time that we had vegetables and common ingredients. Then once the mystery items are revealed, you get $25 and 45 minutes to go to the farmers market and buy everything you need and come back and plan out your menus. After the planning time is over, we got one hour to cook everything for the judges. We prepared a creamy chicken soup in a bread bowl as our appetizer, then for our entrée we made cabbage rolls with onions, carrots and apples with a walnut-encrusted pork inside of them. That was served with sauteed purple potatoes and sweet potatoes with a maple glaze. For dessert we prepared an apple tart with caramel sauce. We knew it would be stiff competition, but we had been training hard, and I knew we could do it.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
The PCHS team was the first place winner, and received a plaque of recognition and a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pritt said. “ We got to work as a team and really show off our skills and all the great training that our teacher has given us. This was my first time going with PCHS, and I definitely plan to go back next year.”
“I knew we had it in the bag,” Carr added. “I’m just kidding. It was a really good competition, but Ms. Mullen has been a wonderful mentor, and I’m glad I got to work under her as a part of this amazing team. But with a sad heart, I must confess that I don’t think I am going to be pursuing a career in culinary arts after high school.”
That isn’t the case for Brittany Sharp. Sharp was recently accepted into Pierpont’s Culinary Arts School at Fairmont, a Culinary School that is ranked number five in the nation.
“I am so excited to go,” she said. “I loved going to the Cast Iron Cook-Off, and I am going to miss Ms. Mullen after I am gone. She is hard on us, but that’s what makes her such a great teacher. And I am excited for Pierpont. I love what I do, and I can’t wait to make it my career later on.”
The students are already preparing for their next competition – the Hospitality Cup at the Waterfront Hotel in Morgantown. That event is scheduled for the end of the month.
For more information about ProStart and various competitions, contact Teresa Mullen at the Pocahontas County High School at 304-456-6564.