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Local HS students put their culinary prowess on display in annual dinner

Parry Sound High School’s up-and-coming culinary professionals had a chance to show off their skills at a dinner for community partners on March 8.

The seventh annual dinner is part of the school’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) hospitality and tourism program.

According to a release by the local school board, the chefs-to-be have been preparing for the dinner since January, working on perfecting the menu weeks in advance. 

The board says during the event students occupied a variety of roles from preparing the food to interacting with guests, setting tables and serving entrees.

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School officials say the dinner also served as a practice run for the students, who are preparing for an upcoming Skills Canada culinary competition. The competition sees students from across Ontario compete to show off their abilities in a variety of skilled trades, with the local high school’s hospitality and tourism, automotive and welding students all set to compete in qualifying competitions on April 1st.

According to hospitality and culinary teacher Blair Cousins, all the food in the dinner preparation was under the direction of Senior Student Chef Lily Stiles.

“The feedback from the guests was overwhelmingly positive and there was really strong support for the flavours that were presented. These meals are a unique opportunity for our students to interact with people who are in the industry while learning the skills required to prepare a catering event.” Cousins said. 

Cousins says Stiles worked with her crew of 10 culinary SHSM students adding the menu was completely prepared in the PSHS kitchen.

“It was challenging plating 45 tossed salads with all the different components and while I have been practicing the hamburgers, ensuring all the students were keeping it consistent and preparing the plates for people with allergies did mix us up for a few minutes”, Stiles said.

The board says dinner guests were treated to a variety of mocktails and hors d’oeuvres to start the evening and for the main course, guests were served minestrone soup, a cheeseburger with a side salad and a brownie plate for dessert.

Among the guests were Near North District School Board Chair Erika Lougheed, Vice-Chair Howard Wesley, Director of Education Craig Myles, Parry Sound area farmers, restaurant owners and chefs, hospitality business owners, and former students who have continued in the industry.

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