Portage High School’s culinary team scored yet another top-ten finish at the ProStart Invitational.
The team learned Friday it finished ninth out of 26 teams in Milwaukee, the fourth year in a row a Portage team has placed in the top third or top 10 of ProStart competitors.
“Chef Mike (Althen) and I were really proud of the kids. They were so nervous but worked so well together,” Jane Hemming said in an email.
Portage, competing on Tuesday, finished with about 82 points.
Only the top three advanced to nationals set for April in Dallas, Texas.
Pulaski, a school near Green Bay, earned first place with about 91 points. In second place was Wilmot of Kenosha County, scoring about 90 points, and Fond du Lac finished in third with about 88 points.
Hemming, family and consumer science teacher at PHS, said the team worked “very clean” in a 10-foot by 10-foot space that’s otherwise very easily cluttered and finished their cooking with a few seconds to spare.
The students, comprised of four cooks and a team expeditor, prepared a stuffed baby portabella, pan-seared pork tenderloin with a shrimp fromage, and apple crisp.
“We received very little criticism from the judges and lots of praises, so we were hoping we would have even placed higher, but we are pleased with ninth place. The competition was very tough,” Hemming said, noting Pulaski and Fond du Lac are much bigger schools than Portage.
“Many schools have a lot more resources to draw from than what we have, but we have a lot of heart,” Hemming said. “We’ll keep working hard, and hopefully someday we will take first.
“Meanwhile, we will just enjoy the experience and appreciate everything we are learning in the process.”
Competing Portage students were Jenna Balsiger, Samantha Harvey, Joseph Clemmons, Ben Mootz and expeditor Alyssia Rounds.