Career and tech students cook up a Top 10 finish in national competition

Jovan Afzali (left) of BKW stands with his teammates at the national ProStart Invitational.
Jovan Afzali (left) of BKW stands with his teammates at the national ProStart Invitational.

A team of high school students from Albany and Schoharie Counties cooked up a Top 10 finish in the nation in a culinary competition recently in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School culinary team of Jovan Afzali of Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Devlan Matthews of Schoharie, and Alexia Torres and Katelyn Manchester of Cobleskill-Richmondville placed ninth out of 46 teams from across the country in the national ProStart Invitational held April 27-28.

The national competition is touted as America’s premier secondary school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. During the National ProStart Invitational, nearly 400 student competitors put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, National Restaurant Association trustees, state restaurant associations and family and friends—all with hopes of earning coveted scholarships from the nation’s premier culinary and restaurant management programs.

The Capital Region BOCES team won the state tournament in March to advance to the national event.

During the national event, the students had 60 minutes and limited resources to prepare a gourmet meal that included butternut squash and goat cheese raviolo with brown butter sage sauce for an appetizer, an entrée of pan-seared arctic char with tomato butter sauce and a dessert of toasted almond ricotta cake with lemon curd and triple berry coulis.

BOCES culinary teacher Chef Nancy Iannacone praised the hard work and diligence of the team. “They did a fantastic job and had the support of so many in the community. I am very proud of their accomplishment,” she said.