Food fit for a governor

Saratoga ProStart partners with Encampment class to draw raves at Governors Hospitality and Tourism Conference


March 13, 2019

Mike Armstrong

ProStart at Saratoga are composed of, from left, Mindy Mills, Lelia Randall, Takoda Pedersen, Jacob Sharp and instructor Cheryl Munro.

Saratoga Middle/High school students in the ProStart program in the Valley created and served appetizers at the Governors Hospitality and Tourism Conference on Jan. 28 for attendees. The annual event is put on by the Wyoming Restaurant and Lodging Association (WLRA).

The three hors d'oeuvres put forth were a huge hit at the conference. A total of 500 pieces were created for the WLRA event.

Saratoga made 250 morsels and Encampment K-12 ProStart students made the other 250

"Each school had to prepare 250 appetizers and so we prepared 500 appetizers," Cheryl (Mo) Munro, the head ProStart teacher for the two schools, explained.

"We had people coming up and telling us that they had been told by others that they needed to try our starters over any others," Lelia Randall Saratoga, ProStart student, said. "It was an incredible compliment."

The three appetizers that attendees were talking about were Piedmontese Beef Chuck Bruschetta, Wild Game Meatballs and Smoked Trout.

The Piedmontese Beef Chuck Bruschetta was sage rubbed and smoked rubbed beef chuck with pickles, shallots and cowboy candy jalapeños on a cheddar crostini with barbecue sauce.

The Wild Game meatballs were done Rumaki style, wrapped in bacon in a sweet/spicy sauce.

Munro said both meat products had been sponsored by Carmine Lonardo's Italian Market in Denver.

The third small dining treat was smoked trout with mango chutney cream, toasted almonds, fresh dill and balsamic caviar on a endive leaf.

Munro credited the Seattle Fish Company, also out of Denver, for the trout.

Saratoga High student Jacob Sharp said that there are two classes offered at different hours.

"One has a lot more students in one class because of its time," Sharp said. "There is a ProStart 1 where freshman come in and learn, then there is a ProStart 1, 2, 3 and 4 as you go through the years."

Munro said the WLRA invited the Wyoming pro-start classes to come.

"They like to spotlight the students and their programs," Munro said. "There were five programs represented. Saratoga, Encampment, Glenrock, Laramie and Cheyenne."

She said Saratoga and Encampment set up separate stations.

The mentor for the two pro-start schools was Denver chef Mark DeNittis.

"I met Mark when I took classes at Johnson and Wales University back in 2001 or 2002 that he taught," Munro said. "Then three years ago, I wrote a grant that took the Encampment students to Denver and some of these places we went, Mark talked to them and these places donated meat for our program."

"ProStart is not funded through school activities," Munro said. "We have to earn every dime we use in this classroom because we are not a part of the Wyoming High School Activities Association."

She said the program is treated like a business.

"We do a lot of math in here and a lot of writing, reading with a hands on approach," Munro said. "We knock the walls of the school down by going out into the community and working; we do a lot of catering at school events."

She said if students complete ProStart 1, they earn four college credits. Completing ProStart 2 earn two college credits. If a student puts in 400 hours in a hospitality industry business, a Certificate of Achievement is awarded.

It is a lot of paper work for Munro, but she said it is worth it to help the students.

This is why she was so pleased that her students went to Cheyenne.

"It was a little overwhelming at first because there were so many people," Randall said. "But we got into the swing of things explaining what we were serving, it became fun."

Takoda Pedersen agreed.

"I love talking to new people and meeting new people," Pedersen said. "And it was great to meet all these people that loved our food. It was a great experience and I am glad I went."

"Takoda is right about it being a great experience meeting all the different people we did," Sharp said. "It really was an amazing opportunity that turned out to be an awesome experience."

Randall, Pedersen and Sharp all felt DeNittis helped them in many aspects of getting ready for the big night. They had high praise for his help.

However it was Mindy Mills, another teacher for ProStart, and Munro the students reserved their strongest accolades.

"We will never be able to thank Mindy and Mo for everything they do for our program and our school," Sharp said. "They are amazing people. Both go more than the extra mile."

"They do everything in their power to make sure we get the best education we can," Randall said. "They try their hardest to make sure we can do activities like this."

All three students aspire to use what they are learning in the future and Munro will do her best to have them prepared.

Mike Armstrong

Members of the Saratoga ProStart team whip something up in the classroom at Saratoga High School recently.


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