“A Night in Italy” Ends Well for Pillager High School at ProStart Invitational

“A Night in Italy” ended well for Pillager High School, when they clinched 1st Place in the Culinary division of the 2023 Minnesota State ProStart Invitational at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on Tuesday. The team will represent Minnesota at the National ProStart Invitational, May 2-4, 2023, in Washington D.C.

Coached by Jennifer Wise (far right) and mentored by Chef Tom Kavanaugh of Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort in Brainerd (far left), the team includes Ethan Thom, Briana Blais, Islay Peterson, Delaney Deuel, Samantha Barent, Malaney Laveau (pictured left to right above).

The team produced a luscious and ambitious three-course meal within the one-hour time limit, influenced by Chef Kavanaugh’s deep knowledge of Italian cuisine. Pillager’s appetizer, entree and dessert were woven together like fine Italian linen, including:

  • Roman Style Mortadella Meatballs | Classic Roman Mortadella Meatballs, lightly deep fried, and served with our house rolled Chittara pistachio pasta, pistachio cream sauce and fresh ricotta.
  • Tuscan Grilled Hen “Diavolo” and Risotto | Spicy Cornish Hen Airline Breast, grilled and roasted with garlic and herbs and complimented with fresh tomato salsa and gremolata. Served with wild mushroom-truffle risotto and crispy shallots.
  • Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Tart | Creamy bittersweet chocolate ganache in a fresh peanut crust, complimented with raspberry sauce, chocolate lavender cream, and our house-made peanut butter gelato.

The team will spend the next month preparing for the national competition, which brings 50 schools together at the Washington Hilton for three days of competition. In addition to vying for top honors, winners in each division — Management and Culinary — are awarded scholarships for their post-secondary education. Sauk Rapids-Rice High School will be representing Minnesota in the Management division. Both teams can use the community’s help to defray travel costs. To donate, click here.





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