Salem-area teams place at national high school culinary, restaurant management competition

McNary High School and Salem’s Career Technical Education Center had teams place in the top 10 at the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore in late April, a competition of the country’s best student culinary and restaurant management teams.

McNary’s team placed sixth out of 48 teams in the culinary competition, while Salem’s CTEC team placed eighth out of 48 teams in the restaurant management competition. First place for the culinary competition went to the team from Caesar Rodney High School in Delaware. First place in the restaurant management competition went to the Orange County School of the Arts’ team from California.

The students on the McNary team include Maya Orlov, Emma Rygh, Elizabeth Williams, Indiana Gauthier and Kaitlyn Manning with teacher Wendy Bennett.

The students from the CTEC team include Alex Alfaro, Dayna Poage, Masseni Koulibali and Savannah Mitchum with teacher Austin Stinson.

The two teams were this year’s top team in their respective category from the Oregon ProStart Championships.

The culinary team from McNary prepared a steelhead fish cake and grilled bone-in Carlton Farms pork chop glazed with a pancetta apple chutney. It was served with green beans on top of a herbed wild rice and vegetable pilaf. The dessert was a chocolate mousse with a hazelnut crust, garnished with shaved white chocolate and a candied hazelnut spear. The students had to prepare the three-course menu without access to electricity or running water and could only use two butane burners.

CTEC’s restaurant management team presented a food truck concept called “Swirly Spuds” that “puts a spin on the classic combination of French fries and ice cream.” The team then defended their concept across hourlong question and answer sessions with a panel of restaurant and food industry judges.

“After countless hours of hard work and practice, both students and teachers can reap the rewards of their incredible performance at the invitational,” said Courtney Smith, ProStart manager for the Oregon Hospitality Foundation. “Oregon was well represented!”

ProStart is a nationwide high school career and technical education program. The competition showcased over 400 students from across the country in both disciplines.

For more info on the Oregon ProStart program, competition and participants, check out the website,

Em Chan covers food and dining at the Statesman Journal. You can reach her at and follow her on X @catchuptoemily.

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: McNary High School, Salem CTEC place at national competition