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These Raytown teenagers won a national culinary contest with this ambitious menu

Team Missouri takes first place at the 2018 National ProStart Invitational

Meet the 2018 National ProStart Invitational first place Culinary winners - Team Missouri.
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Meet the 2018 National ProStart Invitational first place Culinary winners - Team Missouri.

This past November, four Raytown teenagers set a goal to become national champions in a culinary contest.

So at a premier competition for high school culinary arts students this past weekend, Levi Barkley, Elizabeth Wells, Jeremiah Bell and Jonathan Hernandez prepared what they hoped would be the perfect menu.

Butter poached Maine lobster and a saffron couscous appetizer. Pine nut pork tenderloin paired with truffle Yukon potato and vegetable bouquetiere entrée. A raspberry dark chocolate Bavarian for dessert.

It was a meal worthy of a national championship.

The Herndon Career Center Culinary team earned first place out of a competition of 48 teams in the National ProStart Invitational Culinary Arts competition, held this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island.

Barkley, Bell and Wells, of Raytown South High, and Hernandez, of Raytown High, defeated 48 teams and represented the state of Missouri in the culinary arts category.

The event, hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, also featured a restaurant management competition.

“This team has been an amazing team to coach and mentor every step of the way," Herndon Career Center Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Mike Chrowstowski said in a statement after the win. "They have worked super hard and have done it with a smile and determination even when practices were not going as planned."

In an event video featuring the Missouri winners, the Herndon Career Center team made number one signs with their fingers and embraced.

"We all definitely come from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different hobbies," Barkley said. "The main thing we have in common at the beginning of the year is we all wanted to join the team."

"We wanted to cook," Bell piped in.

Winning the competition didn't just earn the students bragging rights. The team met Ted Allen, host of the Food Network's Chopped show, and Nicole Silva, a food entrepreneur, and earned college scholarships to continue their food service education.

Each member of the first-place winning team automatically received $7,000 in scholarship towards a school of their choice – $6,000 from Coca-Cola North America and $1,000 from the Burger King McLamore Foundation.

Additional institution-specific scholarships will be awarded to each student upon enrolling in one of the 17 partnering schools, totaling up to nearly $100,000, an event spokesperson told The Star.

"They showed they wanted to reach their goal and they truly deserve it," Chrowstowski said. "I will remember their team effort for the rest of my life."

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