Madaline Gucciardi showing off her creations from CIM’s ProStart Camp
Port Huron, MI – The academic year has kicked off with a sizzle of excitement for Madaline Gucciardi, a budding culinary artist, as she embarks on her journey at the Culinary Institute of Michigan-Port Huron (CIM). Her anticipation is not solely fueled by starting her collegiate career, but also by her unforgettable summer experience at the CIM-sponsored ProStart® camp.
With the first few weeks of her Culinary Arts program now under her belt, Madaline reflects on how the camp added an extra layer of excitement as she prepared for college. A graduate of Almont High School in Almont, Michigan (Lapeer County), she had the privilege of participating in the ProStart® camp– a program where Baker College helps build a bridge between high school and the collegiate experience. It’s real life career preparation for these students, providing knowledge and skills that give them a head start on their collegiate journey and prepares the next generation of skilled culinary artists.
During this week-long program, students stay in a nearby hotel and follow a carefully curated schedule of classes that immerse them in the intricacies of various culinary skills. Developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, ProStart® offers industry-recognized certifications, enhancing students’ employability and readiness for careers in a diverse range of culinary and hospitality settings.
“At first, cooking was just a hobby for me, and I didn’t take it too seriously,” Madaline said. “But then I realized that I could turn my passion into a successful culinary career.”
Madaline’s dedication to her craft has already borne fruit through participation in various competitions. She has earned medals in Baking and Pastry Skills, and these competitions have opened doors to scholarships that are propelling her closer to her dreams.
Among her achievements, Madaline stood out in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) competition, securing both silver and gold medals. She also excelled in the SkillsUSA competition, clinching a silver medal at the regional level, another silver at the state level, and placed 7th nationally in Baking and Pastry Arts during the 2023 competition.
This year’s camp at CIM brought together more than a dozen schools from across the state, hosting a total of 33 aspiring culinary artists. The camp not only introduced them to the industry but also showcased the thrilling, behind-the-scenes world of culinary arts.
“The Prostart summer camp hosted by the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Port Huron gives high school students an opportunity to see and learn in a college environment. It provides them with a unique chance to experiment with food items that they may not encounter in their tech center programs. This experience expands their horizons and allows them to discover a broader range of culinary possibilities,” stated Paula Recinella, CIM Program Director.
Madaline’s personal highlight from the program was the creation of a spectacular buffet at the camp’s conclusion, a masterpiece showcasing the skills she and her fellow campers acquired throughout the week. The camp experience also included mastering the art of crafting fondant cakes, sugar art, sugar sculptures, and a friendly competition to determine which student’s recipes would earn a coveted spot in that showcase. She mentioned the joy she felt when sharing with her parents the contributions she made and the complexity of the processes involved in preparing and executing the dishes.
As Madaline embarks on her culinary journey at CIM, her passion and the skills honed at the ProStart camp will undoubtedly continue to set her on a path to culinary excellence. Her story serves as an inspiring testament to the power of passion, dedication, and transformative experiences in shaping the future of aspiring chefs.
ProStart® is a career and technical education program that unites the foodservice industry and the classroom to teach high school students culinary skills and restaurant management principles, as well as employability skills such as communication, teamwork, professionalism and time management. The program reaches approximately 165 thousand students in more than 1,800 schools in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and the Territory of Guam. Over the past 23 years, more than 1 million students have participated in ProStart®.(chooserestaurants.org) Learn more about partnerships, resources, and accessibility.
Connect with The Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM), a division of Baker College – one of four US institutions to earn the “Recognition of Quality Culinary Education” designation from the World Association of Chefs’ Societies. The Baking and Pastry, Food and Beverage, and Culinary Arts programs in Port Huron and Muskegon are accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC).