Cape High chefs take second place in state contest

Students create recipes for 11th annual Delaware ProStart Student Invitational
April 23, 2024

Cape High culinary students earned a second-place finish in state competition for an Asian-themed menu they created using only two portable butane stoves.

Held Feb. 28-29 at Chase Center on the Waterfront in Wilmington and hosted by the Delaware Restaurant Foundation, the Delaware ProStart Student Invitational welcomed student teams from across the state to participate in culinary and management competitions.

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year industry-written curriculum for high school students interested in culinary and management skills. Students who qualify at the state level proceed to the national competition.

The Cape team, comprising Captain Caleb Marcus, Keegan Kramer, Nate Steinman, Alessandra Broussard, Kaniyah Aski and instructor LaTisha Dismuke, entered the culinary category this year. Student chefs had one hour to cook an appetizer, entree and dessert.

Alessandra created the appetizer, a shrimp tempura sushi roll topped with spicy mayo and tobiko. Nate made glass noodles he paired with seared scallops, braised bok choy and stir fry. Keegan baked a Smith Island-style layered cake with vanilla cream filling, sliced and candied strawberries and a raspberry coulis sauce topping.

Sous chef Kaniya assisted all Cape students, and Caleb created a time management spreadsheet that documented allotted times for students sharing the two portable stoves. As captain, freshman Caleb had to learn all recipes so he could cook in case a teammate couldn’t make it to the competition.

Each of her students received six scholarships totaling $16,000 for their showing, Dismuke said.

Long before the competition, students started practicing in early November and spent months perfecting their recipes, Keegan said.

An informal class competition determined the best recipe in each category and a spot in the state competition for that chef, Caleb said. 

Students had to not just cook, said Dismuke, they had to create the recipe line by line, evaluate ingredients, gauge expenses of each item right down to the amount of oil used, and write the directions.

“They really worked their way through the menu,” Dismuke said. “It’s not just cooking. They had 100% perfect on all their menus.”

While students may or may not enter the restaurant workforce, Caleb said the skills they gained throughout the year and in competition, such as teamwork and leadership, can be easily transferred to other industries.

Students said they got to meet and learn from Delaware chefs like Dru Tevis, Hari Cameron and Robbie Jester, who each provided guidance, support and feedback.

“It was definitely a challenge, but we all bonded and had fun,” Caleb said.

Following the competition, students then helped Drift restaurant executive chef Tom Wiswell during cocktail hour at the Delaware Restaurant Foundation’s fundraising dinner in Wilmington April 10.

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