Melinda Drogowski wins culinary award 4.2

Written by David Green.

When Melinda Drogowski took the tour of the Lenawee Vo-Tech Center last year, she knew right then where she was headed.

Other members of Morenci’s sophomore class might not have been sure of their future, but for Melinda, the choice was clear. When she was able to enroll in  Vo-Tech classes, she would choose the hospitality program to get a start on becoming a chef.

It turned out to be a good choice. It’s been hard work, but she’s had some great experiences, learned a lot about the culinary business and she has excelled.

From a class of more than 20 students, she was chosen as a member of both Vo-Tech teams that recently competed in the state-wide ProStart program—teams that came home with third and fourth place finishes among a field of 18 competitors.

ProStart, explained hospitality instructor Corbett Day, is a two-year program that gives students the culinary and management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and food service industry.

Those classroom skills are put to the test once a year in the Michigan Restaurant Association ProStart Student Invitational. The 2008 competition took place in Lansing’s Sheraton Hotel March 8-10.

This is where students have to show respect for each other, practice good teamwork and show good listening skills, said team member Alec Rummler of Adrian.

In addition to Mr. Day’s instruction, students worked with chef Frank Marrara of Americrown at Michigan International Speedway. The class visited the kitchen there to work alongside the pro.

At the Sheraton, teams of four students had one hour to prepare a meal. The Lenawee team went with pan-seared yellow fin tuna, wrapped in seaweed and accompanied by a wasabi-pea coulis and a red pepper sauce. A Mediterranean salad was also prepared.

The effort netted a fourth-place finish, but the management team—again with Melinda as a member—did even better. The quiz bowl participation and case study project resulted in a third-place finish. Each team member was promised a $500 scholarship to the highly-regarded Johnson & Wales University culinary school.

She would like to put that scholarship to use after a couple of years at Washtenaw Community College where she would get some basics covered.

Melinda is already looking forward to second year classes at Vo-Tech where students will dig into some finer points of cooking, such as spices and sauces—all in an independent study format.

“They’re getting a new kitchen next year so it’s going to be even better,” Melinda said.

She’s also looking forward to job possibilities after graduation when the Pro-Start program is complete.

Classes end each day at 2:15 p.m., but that was far from the end of the day for several students learning the culinary arts. But with the competition over for the year, maybe there won’t be so many late nights for the young chefs.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016