Manhattan High FCCLA takes third at state, receives scholarships

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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On April 15 through April 17, three students from the Manhattan High Family Career and Community Leaders of America team — junior Mason Jackson, as well as seniors Cristina Martinez and Jonah Kermer — travelled to Campus High School in Wichita to compete in the FCCLA Culinary Arts state competition. The team took third place, with each student winning a $1000 scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America.

“This is only our second year of entering that particular competition,” coach Heidi Rippert said. “Last year we received bronze, this year we received a high silver so definitely some improvement since we’ve been in the competition now twice and we know what to expect…silver is a great accomplishment.”

According to Rippert and the three-man FCCLA team, during the competition, competitors are given one menu out of three created by the Culinary Institute of America. They are not told which menu they must prepare until they walk into the competition room. Competitors are then allotted 20 minutes of menu plan time, 20 minutes to set up and one hour to cook the menu in its entirety. Once the hour is up, it’s “hands-up” for competitors, and anything left off the plate is disqualified from the entry.  

“It was exciting and the flow of everything was amazing,” Martinez said. “We got compliments on our communication and teamwork which is a big compliment in the culinary field. Time management was a big issue. Because it was timed, certain things weren’t perfected as well as they could have been.”

Manhattan High students took about a month to practice and prepare for state. This included practicing cooking each part of the menu made up of an appetizer, and entree — which must include a protein and two sides — and a dessert. The practice seemed to have paid off for the team, though they still had their difficulties.

“Our kale salad had a little too much lemon,” Jackson said. “The chicken was a little undercooked and our plating for our truffles wasn’t the best, but we got everything plated which most people didn’t so it was all good.”

Placing third was a slight disappointment for the team as they won’t advance to nationals, and seniors will not get the chance again. However, they all seemed pleased at the $1000 scholarship award.

“Going to nationals would’ve been the ultimate reward but sadly we didn’t make it,” Martinez said. “The $1000 at least takes a little off tuition because [the Culinary Institute] is roughly $36,000 for four years and the scholarship is renewable. It helps at least a little.”

While seniors were sad they would not be able to return to competition, Rippert expressed gratitude for being able to watch the students grow.

“I’ve been able to see their creative talent within the culinary arts area and I have a few of them that will go far in culinary that aspire to be in the industry,” Rippert said. “Even though [the team] was disappointed in their third place finish — they would’ve liked to  have finished first this year… a silver is a great accomplishment.”

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