This week and the coming week, the Laramie High School Culinary Arts classes will be participating in a competition that could lead to college scholarships. 

“The Taco John’s competition is a scholarship competition for all Wyo. culinary arts students, and it is usually for advanced classes. Each year they have a different theme or specific menu item they are looking for. This year, they are targeting high school students, looking for a menu item that the competitors think their peers would like,” club sponsor Kallie Poncelow said.

The Taco John’s “Iron Taco” competition is accepting submissions for menu items through Oct. 20, and so the LHSs’ cooking classes have already started the process of creating their menu item submission. 

The top six finalist teams will be announced on Oct. 24. These teams will participate in Round Two in Cheyenne on November 21, where judges will evaluate the teams’ menu items, while also listening to the information they give about nutrition, affordability and how they came up with the item. 

This competition will also provide a 500 dollar scholarship to each participant on the winning team, 250 dollars to the runner-up team from Taco John’s. 

However, the menu item also plays another role in the scholarship because each participant from the winning team gets paid a dividend of the revenue from their menu item for the year that that item is available. 

While this competition is not limited to the ProStart classes, almost every high school across the state has a ProStart class, and so they usually make up a good part of the participants.

ProStart is an international organization that trains students that usually want to go into cooking professionally, and certified them in more advanced techniques that are recognized nationally across the board. 

ProStart teaches students more advanced techniques like how to break down a chicken, mother sauces, knife cuts, which all culminates to a state event.

“Students compete in a baking, culinary arts and restaurant management competition, where if they win in those areas they go to nationals and compete in Washington D.C. against other international ProStart classes,” Poncelow said.

While LHS’ team has never won the Iron Taco Competition, they have done fairly well in the past, and since it will be only the 3rd time Poncelow has competed with her ProStart class, we should have a good chance.

“Our team placed 4th last year, and since this is the 2nd year I’ve taught ProStart, we’re hoping we can get in the top three and have the opportunity to win it,” Poncelow said.

This shows the versatility and applicability of classes at LHS, and how they can help prepare students for the future and encourage their interests and dreams. 

On top of there being scholarship opportunities involved, this competition is also a fun and constructive way to influence the community through food.