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Hewitt-Trussville culinary team wins ProStart Invitational

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — The Hewitt-Trussville High School culinary team earlier this month won top honors at the inaugural ProStart Invitational at Culinard in Birmingham.

The team consists of Deja Rae Stoddard, Kyle Walker and Matt Phillips. Chef Laura Rinsky is the head of the high school’s culinary team. The team will represent the state of Alabama against 47 other teams in the National ProStart Culinary Competition in Minneapolis, Minn., from May 2-6. This is the first time the state of Alabama will be represented in the national competition.

“The team will be competing against the best of the best, and they have the talent and skills to put Alabama on the culinary map,” Rinsky said.

The three students had one hour and two burners to complete a three-course meal.

Stoddard created an appetizer composed of a scallop ceviche salad with spicy pineapple-orange vinaigrette in a jalapeño tortilla shell.

Kyle Walker, Matt Phillips and Deja Rae Stoddard
submitted photo

Walker, a senior attending The Culinary Institute of America after graduation, mastered the rosemary braised pork tenderloin entrée with shitake parmesan polenta, braised vegetables and a white balsamic reduction.

Phillips, who plans to attend the Hospitality and Culinary Institute at Jefferson State Community College, designed a Nutella napoleon with organic raspberries, caramelized bananas and a Ghirardelli dark chocolate sauce.

The team won more than $60,000 in scholarship money and also won the knife skills competition. The competition was judged by 18 professional chefs and industry experts across Alabama.

The students were scored on knife cuts, meat fabrication, safety, sanitation, organization, teamwork, creativity, taste and presentation.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to assist the team in getting to the national competition, contact Rinsky at or 205-821-2253. The team can also be followed on Twitter @hutculinaryteam.

Contact Gary Lloyd at and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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