Although students had already graduated on June 4th, Saline High School senior Kelly Zielinski continued to attend school to practice her menu for the Skills USA National Culinary Competition held in Louisville, Kentucky on June 22.
Zielinski earned the Bronze Medal at nationals.
In April Zielinski earned the first place gold medal at state competition in Grand Rapids, which earned her the opportunity of representing the state of Michigan as the top high school student in culinary arts.
Zielinski’s menu demonstrated such culinary techniques as; emulsified dressing, butchery, standard knife cuts, sautéing, braising, sauce and stock production and other advanced skills which are usually only obtained at a culinary college. However, the South and West Washtenaw Culinary Arts Program at Saline High School enables students to obtain skills far above those seen at a high school level.
The program is taught by Chef Instructor Sam Musto along with two technicians; Chef Polly Brown and Chef Dawn Stettler. Chef Musto has been teaching as an adjunct instructor at Schoolcraft College for over 20 years along with being the culinary arts instructor at Saline High School for the past ten years. Chef Musto explains that, “his high school students gain real life experiences in the culinary program as they run a restaurant in the school along with a full catering operation.” It is not uncommon to see Chef and his students conducting a banquet from anywhere of 100 to 300 guests.
When asked if she was nervous at national competition Zielinski replied, “no, I am just ready to cook.”
Zielinski executed her menu with great skill and confidence. Her parents awaited the results with excitement as this competition was open to the public and allowed them to watch the whole event.
Zielinski plans to attend the Culinary Institute of American in New York this Fall. She was awarded scholarship for her bronze medal and will be able to articulate college credits from her culinary classes at Saline High School.