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Team from SCOE’s Palmiter Culinary Café Competes in State ProStart Matchup

10th Annual California Competition Features High School Chefs

Student chefs preparing food

Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School students at the California ProStart competition, March 25-26 at the Sacramento Convent​ion Center.

The competition heated up when students from the Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School Culinary Café participated in the 10th annual California ProStart event March 25-26 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

The annual competition, hosted by the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (CRAEF), features local high school culinary teams going head-to-head in a series of culinary competitions. During this spirited event, student chefs have just one hour to prepare and present a three-course meal using only two butane burners for cooking. In a separate management contest, teams were required to propose a restaurant concept including a menu, marketing plan, and design elements.

"Chefs from all over the world compete in such competitions not only as a rite of passage but to come together and share ideas and expertise," said Jeff Zahniser, the culinary instructor at Palmiter High School. "Culinary Arts students benefit from these events in many ways from team building to organizational and critical thinking skills."

Participants in both events relied on skill and knowledge. Points were awarded for specific criteria including proper cooking procedures, safety and sanitation, presentation, product taste, and teamwork. The student teams were scored by a judging panel comprised of restaurant owners and master chefs.

Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School, a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) education program, provides education to special needs students, with the primary disability of Emotional Disturbance (ED), in grades 7–12. The students are referred directly by Sacramento County school districts that are unable to provide the more highly structured behavioral support programs available at Palmiter.

Students are provided a standards-based educational program that is supported by a strong vocational/transitional/school-to-world emphasis. Students in the Culinary Arts program prepare and serve lunch on specific Thursdays, typically running from November through May, from noon–1 p.m. The Café is open to the public (reservations required) and menus are available online.

Plated food on display
Student chefs wearing chef hats