Independence High School Culinary Arts Students Win NC ProStart Cooking Competition

Chef Deidre Mallow, Julyan Moreta Quezada, Joseph Moraglia, Olivia Clark, SyAna Sissoko-Bates, and Gracie Mallow--first place winners in the NC ProStart Competition!
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MINT HILL, NC – The Seniors and advanced students of Chef Deidre Mallow’s Culinary Arts Program at Independence High School in Charlotte recently won the NC ProStart Competition at North Carolina Central University.

This year’s ProStart Competition involved 14 teams of students from 9 different schools across North Carolina. The competition was fierce, and students were put to the test, having one hour to create an appetizer, main course, and dessert using only two butane lighters. Students across the state competed for $560,000 in scholarships and bragging rights for the following year. As the first-place winners, the advanced culinary arts students from Independence High School will go on to compete to win the national title at the National ProStart Invitational. The Invitational will occur May 2-4 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.

The contending students in this year’s competition were Gracie Mallow, Olivia Clark, Julyan Moreta Quezada, Joseph Moraglia, and SyAna Sissoko-Bates. Chef Deidre Mallow accompanied her students but could give no coaching according to competition rules. The students created an appetizer of fried green tomato with bacon jam and pimento cheese on a bed of micro greens; a main course of pan-seared Kanpachi with braised collard greens, succotash, and a champagne vinegar gastrique; and a dessert of steamed chocolate cake with mascarpone mousse, dark chocolate ganache, macerated strawberries, and candied cacao nibs.

“My students were dedicated to working hard as a team and showed excellent communication skills, time management, and creativity. I am so proud of them!” Chef Mallow remarked.

With 11 years of experience as a first-rate Chef and four years of teaching experience as a Culinary Arts Teacher, Chef Deidre Mallow holds her students to high standards. The ProStart program she uses as a curriculum teaches life and cooking skills, time management, resume building, and preparation for the workforce. Most of her students will go on to work in the culinary industry, with the final year of classes focusing on advanced cooking methods, international dishes, nutrition, creating recipes, and marketing.

The students were eager to share their experiences with the competition:

SyAna Sissoko-Bates said she felt that “our win was a representation of our team as a whole. Even though we were nervous and it wasn’t easy to get where we got to, our trust in each other’s abilities never failed us.”

When asked how it felt to attain first place, Julyan Moreta Quezada excitedly summed up his feelings, stating he will “remember the experience, the good memories, and of course, the big win!”

In thinking about the future, Olivia Clark stated, “I plan to go to CPCC to study baking and pastry. I have already started building my own baking business with the guidance of Chef Mallow while completing the Culinary Arts Program at Independence High School.”

The aspiring chefs are eager to compete in the ProStart National Invitational. They are working hard to prepare their entry choices for the competition. Chef Mallow has the utmost confidence in her students, and they will continue to steadily work towards the goal of bringing home the gold this May!

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