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Not a Win, But Quite A Showing

By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page F02

The four Howard County high school athletes who cooked their way to the National ProStart Student Invitational in Orlando last week fell short of placing among the top three state teams but won praise from the judges in Maryland's first trip to the finals, their coach said.

The team River Hill junior volleyball player Sarah Draper, River Hill junior cross-country runner Dan Adams, Long Reach senior football player Felipe Soto and Long Reach high jumper Aurielle Austin had an hour to prepare a three-course meal over two butane burners, the only powered equipment allowed.

The foursome prepared a salad of poached lobster medallions over fresh greens with a watercress cream sauce; beef tenderloin with wild mushroom ragout, and citrus crêpes with warm fruit compote. Coach Elaine Heilman said the judges were impressed by the flavorful potatoes in the ragout and by the dessert, but the team lost points for throwing away lobster stock instead of preserving it in the refrigerator and because the tenderloins were a little rare for the judges' liking.

"It was a fabulous experience because it was the best of the best," Draper said. "It was such a rush, but I wasn't nervous, and our team cooked better than we ever have. I've already started preparing for next year. I want our food to have more of an edge."

Teams from 30 states and territorities participated. The team from Sheboygan, Wis., won the event and shared $80,000 in scholarships to top culinary colleges with Colorado, which placed second and Utah, which placed third.

The first-place team prepared a grilled vegetable torta with smoked salmon; marinated veal tenderloin complemented with Munich dark beer and bratwurst mushroom ragout, gnocchi, spinach and carrots; and a dark chocolate mousse layered between rounds of genoise and kirsch-infused cherries in a white chocolate shell.

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