CIM Port Huron Students Maya Van Buskirk and Steven Stempnik awarded at the SkillsUSA Championships in Atlanta
CIM Port Huron students Steven Stempnik and Maya Van Buskirk competed in the SkillsUSA Championships in Atlanta, GA– bringing home awards in the Culinary Arts College/Post-Secondary category.
As a Michigan State Champion in Culinary Arts, Stempnik made the podium– finishing second and winning the Silver Medal. While Michigan State Champion in Baking and Pastry Arts, Maya Van Buskirk had a top ten finish– placing 8th.
Known as “The Largest Gathering of America’s Future Skilled Workforce,” the 5-day leadership and skills conference brought more than 15,000 attendees and more than 6,500 of the best career and technical education students in the nation together to showcase their talents on a national level. A nonprofit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations.
Being critiqued on many skills including sanitation practices, entree appearance, creativity, and degree of difficulty, these students were able to gain knowledge and constructive criticism from judges, other competitors, and advisors. They were required to create their own menus using fundamental cooking techniques and were evaluated on organization, knife skills, food safety, quality and flavor of their prepared items, and more.
With coaches Chef Paula Recinella and Chef Karlee Valley alongside, Van Buskirk and Stempnik agreed they had tremendous support that eased the stress prior to the competition, and both are looking forward to completing their next culinary degrees.
“Baker College did so much to prepare me for this competition. I had all the resources needed to practice the competition curriculum until I felt confident in my work. Not only were ample resources provided for practice, but also ample time from my advisors and mentors were provided that got me through this competition,” Van Buskirk said.
“I reflected on my skills such as my flavor profile, my organization, and my attention to detail which have been improved over my years at CIM. But, I also had to learn how to work under different conditions– and saw how easy or hard it can be to adapt. I still know this is my passion because I loved every minute of it,” Stempnik said.
Van Buskirk earned an AAS in Baking & Pastry, is currently in the Culinary Arts program, and hopes to one day have a culinary career that includes travel.
Stempnik earned an AAS in Culinary Arts, is currently in the Baking and Pastry program, and plans to open a fine-dining restaurant in the future.