ProStart team punches ticket to nationals, Gregory named ProStart teacher of the year


After making it past regionals, state and then winning a final competition in Omaha, the Milford High School ProStart team will get to represent Team Nebraska in Baltimore at the end of April for nationals.

Mallory Gregory, FCCLA and ProStart teacher at MHS, said the Milford team competed in the culinary section of the competition and developed a menu that includes a starter, entree and dessert with specified portion sizes for each.

“The team then works to develop the recipes, the costing, the menu development and then put it all together for the competition,” she said. “For the competition, the team turns in their ‘book,’ which consists of about 40-50 pages of recipes, costing and menu development. They then bring all of their equipment and ingredients to the competition.  The team gets a 10x10 foot space to compete in with two tables and a one-speed rack. The only equipment they can use is two portable butane gas burners. They have to check all ingredients in the original packaging to make sure they are safe to consume, on the ingredient list the team provided, and not in the temperature danger zone. Nothing can come in pre-made.”

After the judges are introduced, Gregory said the team gets 20 minutes to set up their stations and measure out ingredients.

After they set up, the students get 60 minutes to cook two plates for the starter, two plates for the entree and two plates for dessert. 

“Every 15 seconds they go over time, points are deducted,” Gregory said. “The students are judged on the book they submitted, teamwork, safety/sanitation, taste, texture, appearance and overall difficulty of their menu. After 60 minutes, the team delivers one set of plates to the tasting judges and the other set of plates for the display.”

After the plates are delivered, students get critiques from the judges and then have 20 minutes to clean up their stations. Gregory said the students are judged until they leave the station.

The Eagles ended up winning the final competition in Omaha to punch their ticket to the national competition in Baltimore.

Gregory said the students are very excited to go.

“Their goal all year has been to be better than their last dish,” she said. “They have reached that goal every step of the way, and their dedication to detail while staying humble has paid off.”

Other than competing with other students, Gregory said Milford will get to network with students, professional chefs and industry as well as attend special events that showcase Baltimore. 

“There is also an amazing opening ceremony and closing awards gala for the students,” she said.

In order to get ready for the national competition, Gregory said from now until the end of April, the students will be working with Chef Rhoades and the Culinary Institute to fine-tune their menu, raise up the difficulty level and practice their full runs to make it as flawless as possible so the students are confident going into nationals.

“Then we will make sure to get everything inventoried, packed and ready to take on the plane- coolers, equipment and all,” she said.

Along with Milford winning the final three event, Gregory was named the Nebraska ProStart teacher of the year. She said she feels humbled and grateful for the award.

“Getting to work alongside some of the greatest has helped me grow as a teacher, person and mother,” she said. “It is more than just creating great dishes. It is all about teaching us all to be humble, full of growth and always getting better. Getting to work with students to become something much greater than themselves is a gift each day.”

Gregory has taught nutrition and foods as well as culinary for 15 years as an FCS teacher and FCCLA advisor.

“When we moved to Milford four years ago, MPS had (and still has) ProStart as part of their FCS culinary pathway to support that connection to industry and give kids opportunities outside of the classroom,” she said.

Overall Gregory said the students are excited to represent Team Nebraska at nationals.

“The team of students are definitely family to us, and I am blessed to get to have this experience with them,” she said. “It really is icing on the cake.”