Sioux City, Iowa -- Move over Gordon Ramsay. There are two Sioux City Community School District students poised to rock the culinary world.
Ume Vong and Adam Embrock, who both attend North High School, have received their Certificates of Achievement (COA) for ProStart. ProStart is a two-year educational program sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in partnership with the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Association. The program blends classroom learning with mentored work experience to teach high school students the management and culinary skills necessary for a career in the restaurant and food service industry.
Ume and Adam are the first Sioux City Community Schools students to earn their COAs through ProStart which is offered through the District’s culinary pathway.
“Getting the COA is an outstanding achievement for me, who dreamt about helping my parents when they were still running Fujibay (in Sioux City) before closing. In a sense, it’s a way of me finding closure and leaves me with the possibility of running a restaurant as my parents did,” says Ume.
For Adam, earning his COA puts him one step closer to achieving his ultimate goal: becoming a world-renowned chef.
“It means a lot to me. This is the very first step to getting my degree in culinary arts because I don’t want to be a chef. I want to be the chef,” adds Adam.
Both students put in countless hours on their way to earning their ProStart COAs. In addition to meeting high academic standards and completing a checklist of competencies, students must also work at least 400 hours in the restaurant and food service industry.
The long hours required to earn the ProStart COA allowed Adam to not only hone his cooking skills but also introduced him to new areas of the restaurant industry. The aspiring chef learned French techniques, tips for plating food, and menu design.
“The program itself has helped me grow and develop not only as a chef but as a young adult. I feel like I have grown as a person and feel inspired by the people around me,” says Adam.
Joining the ProStart program has expanded Ume’s comfort level with new foods and ingredients.
“It has made me more comfortable trying out new foods and recipes unfamiliar to me,” says Ume. “As a picky eater, I have expanded my palate to include more ingredients to enhance flavor whenever I’m cooking.”
In addition to helping students develop their culinary skills and confidence in the kitchen, ProStart is allowing helping students like Ume and Adam discover other lifelong skills.
“It has helped me develop a sense of leadership,” says Adam. “I stepped into the class as a more ‘keep to myself’ kind of person and have become a very vocal and direct person as a result of it.”
Now, that’s something Gordon Ramsay would surely appreciate.