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.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
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  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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