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Macomb’s Culinary Arts program earns state recognition

Thursday, May 30, 2024 12:00 AM

Macomb’s Culinary Arts program earns state recognition
Ivan Thomas, culinary student

Culinary students earn state recognition, move on to national SkillsUSA competition

Macomb’s Culinary Arts program has a long history of successfully preparing students for the area’s top restaurants and bakeries.  But did you know that when Macomb’s culinary students aren’t busy in the classroom or kitchen, they are earning top awards at advanced competitions?  

At the recent SkillsUSA Michigan competition in Grand Rapids, the Macomb team earned multiple gold and silver medals, as well as a bronze medal in various culinary categories.

The students demonstrated a variety of advanced skills, including mixing a whiskey sour, pickling vegetables and making homemade jam.   Four students will advance to the national Skills USA Championship, which is set for June in Atlanta. 

The students who will compete include:

  • Ivan Thomas – Job Skills
  • Loretta Fisher – Job Skills
  • Justin Gallinagh – Culinary Arts
  • Christina Thompson – Baking/Pastry Arts

“We’ve competed in SkillsUSA for decades and it’s a yearly event, but this is our first time back since Covid,” said Culinary Instructor Heather Pusta. “But I think this is the best we’ve done in a long time. I don’t remember a year when we didn’t have at least one person going to nationals, but this is the first time we’ve ever had four students.”

What is SkillsUSA?

The SkillsUSA Championship is the premier showcase of America’s most highly skilled career and technical education students. It’s also one of the largest hands-on workforce development events in the world.

Throughout SkillsUSA students sharpen their skills through competition on the local, regional and state levels. These competitions are created and judged by industry experts. Local winners advance to district or regional competitions, where they test their skills against competitors from other skills. The pinnacle of these competitions is the SkillsUSA Championship, where more than 60,000 state champions compete in over 100 skilled and leadership events, according to SkillsUSA.

Preparing for nationals

To prepare for the national SkillsUSA competition, the Macomb students are polishing up skills such as deboning a fish, breaking down a chicken or properly opening and serving a bottle of wine. The students are putting in extra hours to prepare, sometimes coming in late in the evening.

“We are competing against post-secondary schools from across the United States. But if they do as well as they did (in Grand Rapids), they are going to knock it out of the ballpark,” Pusta said.

Join the team

To learn more about the Culinary Arts program at Macomb please visit our Culinary Arts program page.