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Baker College Culinary Students Again Heading to SkillsUSA National Championship

PORT HURON, Mich. – Student chefs at Baker College’s Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM) continue to excel in culinary competition.

Two students repeated the CIM’s top state wins in the post-secondary culinary arts and commercial baking categories, and three others earned additional medals at the 2017 Michigan SkillsUSA competition.

Awards were presented April 9 in Grand Rapids at the SkillsUSA Michigan Championship Awards ceremony. The competition was hosted by Baker College’s Port Huron campus in March.

Students who will advance to the national competition, held in conjunction with the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, June 22-23, 2017, in Louisville, Kentucky, are:

  • Jamie Cook, of Saginaw, gold medalist and Michigan state champion in culinary arts.
  • Christina Eldracher, of Yale, gold medalist and Michigan state champion in commercial baking.

Both are earning associate degrees: Cook is in culinary arts, and Eldracher is in baking and pastry.

“Each time our students compete we are awed all over again by their expertise and professionalism,” said Thomas F. Recinella, CEC®, AAC®, HGT, CIM Port Huron dean of culinary arts and COURSES Restaurant executive chef. “The entire team, faculty coaches and mentors all worked extremely hard with the single goal for the students to perform their best. These competitions help students hone their skills and elevate performance in the classroom for all students.”

Other CIM medalists are:

  • Culinary arts student Robert Brooks, of Capac, won the silver medal in culinary arts.
  • Baking and pastry student Laura Buendia, of Saginaw, won the bronze medal in commercial baking.
  • Culinary arts student Dwayne Howard Jr., of Detroit, won the bronze medal in restaurant service.
  • Also competing were CIM culinary arts student Kyle Grace, of Chesterfield, and baking and pastry student Quinton Patman, of Saginaw.

CIM faculty who worked with the team include instructors Nick Cornfield, Scott Twichell and Karlee Schulz, and Paula Recinella, CHE, CIM Port Huron senior lead instructor and COURSES Restaurant manager.

Competitors at the state competition included student chefs from culinary schools primarily located in southeastern Michigan.

Baker College offers culinary programs in Port Huron and Muskegon at world-class facilities built specifically for the study of culinary arts.

For more information about Baker College programs, contact Dan Kenny in the admissions office at [email protected] , 888.262.2442 or 810.985.7000, or visit

SkillsUSA serves high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, and teachers. Programming includes local, state and national competitions in which students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills.


The largest private college in Michigan, Baker College is a not-for-profit higher education institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1911, Baker College grants doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificates in diverse academic fields including applied technology, business, education, engineering, health science, information technology and social science. Baker College has on-ground campuses throughout Michigan and offers online programs that can be completed 100 percent online without ever visiting a campus. In 2016, the Online Learning Consortium recognized Baker College Online with the OLC Quality Scorecard Exemplary Endorsement, the highest ranking for online higher education programs. For information, visit or follow Baker College on Twitter, @bakercollege, or on Facebook.

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