by Tim Allen
MISSOULA - A young Drummond Culinary Team came up just short in defending their state title Saturday, claiming second place in the Montana Pro Start competition.
The event, which is sponsored by the Montana Retail Association, was held all day Saturday at Missoula College in East Missoula. Six teams competed in the culinary competition while four more took part in the management side.
"I'm really excited for next year," said Coach Tina Wetsch, who took her youngest team ever to the competition. "They (the judges) thought our scallops were a little bit under done and we had a little too much chocolate on the dessert plates. I think the piping tips were a litter bigger and different than the ones (Gabbi) had before.
"I think it was extremely close. I'm veryy proud of my team."
Drummond's staff included captain Riley Allen, Gabbi Kempf, Rachel Gesel and Shawn Pocha. Nate Brashear was the team's alternate and time keeper. Pocha was the team's only senior, with the rest in their junior year.
Having won the state title in 2017, Drummond coaches Wetsch and Brent Parker had a good idea of what it would take to win again and earn a second trip to the nationals. The coaches and their team presented a solid meal that was given a test-run few weeks earlier in a fundraiser at Parker's Restaurant in Drummond. The menu consisted of the following:
- (Starter, $22.50) Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Rocket Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette, Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Mousse layered with English Cucumber.
- (Entree, $29.95) Montana Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin, Crispy Onion with Soft Boiled Quail Egg, Red Wine Reduction, Buttered Romanesco & Golden Beet Batonnet, Okinawan Sweet Potato Puree.
- (Dessert, $11.50) Layered Crepe Cake, Chocolate Pastry Cream, Chocolate Design with Mango & Triple Berry Sauce, Mine Cream.
The Trojans finished behind first-place Belgrade with Whitefish claiming third. Flathead was fourth followed by Laurel and Chinook.
In the management competition, Whitefish claimed the gold medal. Bozeman was second and Laurel third with Hot Springs just off the podium.
With their first-place victories, Belgrade and Whitefish will represent Montana at the Pro Start National Championship next month in Rhode Island.