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South culinary team savoring state title
South Forsyth High culinary students Jamey Brazier and Jisun Ham are headed to a national cooking contest. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH -- A team from South Forsyth High School has cooked its way to a national competition after recently winning the Georgia ProStart Championships.

The students — Jamey Brazier, Olivia Fisse, Jisun Ham, Corey Nolan and MaKenzie Petrin — are part of Dawn Martin’s culinary program at South.

“The really neat thing about this competition is it culminates everything culinary,” Martin said. “You have to cost the recipe, you have to learn how to write it correctly ... and then they have to come up with names for it. They have to make sure they know the right cooking technique.

“There are all of these little pieces, and then there’s the teamwork. It’s teaching really great life skills because that’s what they have to do when they get out in the working world. So it’s a great environment for them to learn these things and take them to the next level.”

The students’ menu included poached halibut with smoked salmon wrap, tomato vinaigrette and celeriac root puree and a sautéed breast of leek-stuffed chicken, fennel sausage, braised cabbage, honey glazed carrots, rosemary polenta and field mushroom sauce.

For dessert, they made a vanilla cheese Bavarian with strawberry-rhubarb gelee, pecan brittle and granny smith apple broth.

While the menu was theirs, the students have been working since November with Derin Moore, a certified master chef. Moore, whose daughter is also in the culinary program, is a corporate chef for Performance Foodservice.

As a judge for the competition last year, Moore saw the students at South perform and said it was then he “knew that they were very serious about the program and the dedication and they’ve always done quite well.”

Moore said he helped guide the students on how competitions work, the importance of timing and organization and executing their menu.

“They performed very well,” he said. “I was very pleased with the way they executed the menu, with their timing, cleanliness, organization—they performed like professionals.

“It was really, really nice to see how dedicated and driven they were through the practices and how they executed that through the competition.”

In addition to their cooking, the students were also judged on their knife skills, an area in which Martin said Brazier excelled when he had to fabricate a chicken.

“The judges told him he needed to be a surgeon because he did such a great job,” Martin said. “To watch some of them not even be able to hold a knife to being able to come out as a state champion winner is so exciting.”

Both Brazier and Nolan are seniors and have each earned $15,000 in scholarships toward attending culinary school next year, according to Martin.

They will be hard to replace, but their leadership helped inspire a new group of competitors.

“You watch them come so far,” Martin said. “You invest so much in them and see how much of their life they put into this, you just want to see them succeed and be rewarded for their efforts.”