Ong the Way to Nationals

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Ong the Way to Nationals

Junior Sydney Ong takes her culinary management team to nationals

Aspiring culinary arts major, junior Sydney Ong and her team from Monroe Technology Center attended the Virginia ProStart Invitationals, a culinary competition focusing on two categories – restaurant management and culinary skills, on March 9. Students were assessed not only on behind the scenes kitchen work but also front-of-the-house presentation.

Ong and her group outlined and pitched their idea of a trending restaurant to a panel of judges that competed within our state. Ong’s concept was a mobile Italian themed food truck, that combined affordability, speed, and taste. They named it Mangiare, which is Italian for to eat.

“We wanted … something that combines fresh, fast and affordable food because a lot of people have to choose between [those factors], we don’t think you should have to,” said Ong.

The culinary portion of the competition involved cooking a three-course meal, and the management portion focused on the concept of a restaurant.

The team constructed and presented their restaurant concept. They worked out every detail, including the documents that display the recipe and cost, the restaurant layout and menu design, even the advertising and marketing ideas. The group had months to develop their proposal.

“It’s fascinating. I did, we all did, a lot of work on each part,” said Ong.

After spending many lunches in the library working out on her draft, the team thought they had finally finished. But two days before states, “we found out that our presentation was all wrong and we had to completely revamp it…and it was just a complete nightmare,” said Ong. Their presentation was out of order, and the math on their last page was faulty.

In a last-minute scramble, the team of five reassembled part two of their final draft. They presented it to the 20 judges who were representatives from different schools and restaurants. Ong’s team was awarded first place in the state.

“I cried [when we won]. I was pretty happy. I was pretty please with myself, and my team, you know we all did a really good job. I was at a loss for words,” said Ong.

The won a free trip to nationals in Providence Rhode Island, a plaque, and $1,000 scholarship to any of their culinary colleges.  Ong and her team head to nationals on Friday, April 20.

“Right now, we’re just trying to tweak what the judges said we could improve, [and we’re] flushing out more concepts, working on developing certain parts of the proposal that weren’t fully implemented. Just working out the kinks,” said Ong.

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