Belgrade High School students are killing it in the kitchen and in state cooking competitions. However, they’re cooking up way more than just hamburgers and hotdogs.
“I started out in Culinary 1 making angel food cake and now I’m competing in state competitions making lamb and all sorts of things,” said Colter Blank.
Blank is a senior at Belgrade High who began his cooking journey about 3 years ago.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I can do something here at the school cooking-wise,' and from there on it’s really been a home for me here at the high school,” said Blank.
Blank is 1 out of 10 students at Belgrade High School participating in a program known as "Prostart"—an immersive culinary training program that teaches kids the skills they need for a career in the kitchen, the knowledge to run a restaurant, and the dedication to be a good employee in any industry.
“I like seeing people’s faces when I make something that really blows them away,” said Blank.
And that’s exactly what Blank and his teammates have been doing.
Over spring break, He and his teammates won a state championship for their culinary artistry at the Montana Prostart Invitational.
“We went to MSU and just gave it our all and came out on top in the end,” said Blank.
Something that their teacher and coach, Kortney Douma, says made her extremely proud. She’s been teaching some of these students since they were in 5th and 6th grade.
“My stomach was just in knots watching,” said Douma.
At the competition, students prepare an appetizer, entrée, and dessert from scratch in 60 minutes with no battery-operated appliances or utensils.
“When we won it was just so exciting because now we get to go to Washington, D.C. for nationals,” said Douma.
Douma’s talented team of students now has the chance to prove they are the best young culinary minds in the country.
The only problem? Raising the $35,000 they need to get there.
Douma says there are many different opportunities to donate and support the students. A bingo fundraiser is being held on April 8th at the American Legion in Manhattan.
“It’s $30 a ticket,” said Douma. “You get 10 bingo cards, dinner, and there will also be silent auction items.”
Another fundraiser will be held on April 14th at the Mint in Belgrade.
“The entree being served that night is the same entree we’ll be preparing at nationals,” said Douma.
Douma says she’s excited to provide this experience for her students.
“It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” she said.
And Blank says it makes him happy to see the amount of support they’ve gotten from the community.
“It’s just really awesome seeing them come together to help get us to where we need to go,” said Blank.
A GoFundMe was created to help cover the travel and lodging expenses for the Prostart Nationals in Washington DC. They’re hoping to raise $35,000 to get the kids, their equipment, and their advisors to the competition at no cost to them.