Building a future in food and cooking a great meal are what students in the culinary program at Woodruff Career and Technical Center do best.
The icing on the culinary cake? They just won a state competition called the Illinois ProStart State Invitational on Feb. 24th.
The students put their skills to the test and this win at state is only wetting their appetite for a bigger prize later in the spring.
"Oh my gosh I was so nervous. At first I was like, 'I got this' and when we got there I was going crazy. It was so scary. It was so many people," stated Student Keshawna Sledge.
Fifteen culinary schools attended and the competition had two categories: culinary teams and student management.
"You've been practicing for about six months and you've been doing good with your mentors and your team but then when it comes to judging and you have all these new people watching you, it's very nerve racking," stated Student Sondos Asad.
Sledge was on the management team and it was her job to make an entire restaurant based on a theme.
"Our concept was seasonal...local, seasonal, farm to table restaurant," she stated.
Her team of five put together pricing, developed marketing skills and strategies to run a business.
"I feel confident about our concept," stated Sledge.
Those smiles and the tireless hours of hard work paid off when they won for best management.
"When they announced Woodruff everyone started screaming. It was like a moment frozen in time," stated Asad.
And the best part? The students get scholarships for their efforts.
"From last year I had about $25,000 in scholarships for winning third place and winning first place this year I have about $45,000 in scholarships," said Asad.
State is not the final course of the meal, though - next up is nationals.
"Yeah that's the most exciting part about this and I still have another year so imagine if I won both the nationals for each year; I can go to any culinary school I want to," stated Sledge.
The students will be heading to the National ProStart Invitational the weekend of April 27-29th in Providence, Rhode Island.
Fifty management and fifty culinary teams will be competing and if students win they can get full-ride scholarships.