Culinary Wizards Head to Nationals: Where Food Meets Art!

by Renee Koch

Restaurant week in Downtown Sioux Falls recently concluded with a flourish of culinary creativity and skill, prominently featuring the talents of local culinary students. During the week, participating restaurants introduced new items to their menus, offering guests a chance to experience unique dining options. Among the highlights was Crawford’s three-course fine dining meal, meticulously prepared by students from the CTE Academy.

These culinary students have spent the semester honing their craft, embracing the philosophy that creating food is an artistic endeavor that involves intricate plating and an exploration of how food can be both a visual and edible art form. Alex Brnner, a senior at Roosevelt High School, shared her perspective on the creative process behind cooking, emphasizing the diverse methods and processes involved in crafting a dish.

For a culinary competition organized by ProStart in Pierre, Brnner and her four teammates assembled a sophisticated three-course meal. Among the standout dishes was a sugar dome containing huckleberry juice, accompanied by lemon lavender espuma—a culinary foam—and an orange huckleberry chocolate ganache, concocted by Brnner. Another team member, Connor Ibis, a junior from Lincoln High School, crafted a bison Wellington, a delicacy featuring bison tenderloin encased in puff pastry with prosciutto and mushroom duxelle, complemented by parsnip mashed potatoes.

The team’s efforts received invaluable support from Crawford’s Chef, Dan Myers. Inspired by their victory in Pierre and appreciative of their culinary talents, Myers decided to feature their winning dish during Restaurant Week. This gesture not only spotlighted the students’ culinary prowess but also offered them a real-world platform to showcase their skills.

Further bolstering the team’s achievements, Crawfords and the South Dakota Retailers have pledged to sponsor the students’ trip to Baltimore for the ProStart national competition finals. There, they will compete against hundreds of their peers from across the country. Janelle Whempner, the CTE Chef Instructor, expressed immense pride in her students’ accomplishments, highlighting it as an honor to work with such talented and dedicated young individuals.

As they prepare for the national stage, the students are eager to continue their culinary journey, with aspirations of becoming professional chefs in the future. The experience gained from participating in local and national competitions provides them with valuable exposure and a taste of what it takes to succeed in the culinary industry. Their adventure continues as they look forward to competing in Baltimore on the 25th, carrying the hopes and support of their community and mentors.


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