By: Austin Quillinan

Local culinary arts teacher Kallie Poncelow is taking a class of eight students to the Prostart National Invitational in Washington D.C. on May 6th after they qualified by winning the Wyoming Prostart State Competition.

The team of competitors consists of four restaurant management students and four culinary arts students who first competed at the Wyoming State Competition.

The restaurant management team was tasked with creating and designing a restaurant from the ground up, they are given a fictional scenario complete with an entirely fictitious town where they must create a restaurant.

This assignment includes costing the price of the building, creating a menu, and going through the entire process required to build a real-life restaurant.

The students were given three months to complete the project.

They then presented this restaurant to a panel of judges with only two posters to serve as guides.

The entire judging process took 55 minutes, and they earned the closest to a perfect score Wyoming has ever achieved.

The culinary team was tasked with creating a three-course meal using no electricity and only two gas-powered camp burners.

The team planned their meal ahead of time and practiced in class in the weeks preceding the state competition.

The team of four students used the burners to make an appetizer of homemade pasta, the main course of seared short ribs, and a lemon crepe cake as dessert.

Laramie competed against 16 teams coming from other towns in Wyoming, taking 1st place in both events.

Because of their victory, the Laramie Prostart students are headed to Washington D.C. on May 6th to compete in the national competition.

This competition will feature 400 high school teams from across the U.S. and other countries, including Australia, France, and Germany.

The students will be staying at the Hilton on the National Mall, where the competition is taking place.

The competition is held in 2 rounds, and only the top 16 teams will qualify from the first round, after this, the teams will compete head-to-head until only the victor remains.

“This competition is a big deal in the culinary world, people come from all over the world to compete,” Poncelow said.

The students will stay in Washington until the 10th, after which they head back home.

“As a teacher, six years ago Mr. Kern said, ‘Make this your own’ and it’s taken me a while to get there but I feel like my program is finally what I want it to be, and so I’m really proud of how far we’ve come, … {and} … to come out of that and take state I think is really awesome,” Poncelow said.

Poncelow has worked tirelessly for the past few years to strive for excellence in her program, a standard that her past students unanimously agree she has reached.

“We are going to go to nationals, and we are going to represent Laramie with pride and go and kick some butt,” Poncelow said.