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Woodruff students rewarded for cooking up a plan to run a restaurant

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Culinary 2

PEORIA (WEEK) - Some students at Peoria's Woodruff High School are sharpening their skills in the kitchen, learning about the business world, and gaining national recognition.

Owning a restaurant is more than just the food you serve to customers, and Woodruff students see the whole picture when joining the culinary arts program.

They're learning first hand how to calculate food costs, staff a restaurant, and make a profit.

Each year, their skills are put to the test against other students from all over Illinois at the Annual ProStart Invitational in Chicago.

Woodruff's four-person restaurant management team left the Windy City with the school's third straight number one ranking

"It took a long time to come up with our concept, our package, rehearse our lines, everything," said management team member Imani Abdul.

Their concept? Matilda's, a for-profit restaurant that has a non-profit component: cooking classes for kids. That's an idea they said is close to their hearts, said team member Asia Howard.

"I really wish somebody would've helped me learn how to cook when I was actually really young," she said.

The traveling trophy is sitting in Chef Jetti Miedema's classroom.

"Oh, it's amazing. That's what teaching is all about, to see them use the tools and the skills that you teach them in a positive manner, and win all these scholarships like they just did over the weekend," Miedema said.

Each student left Chicago with thousands of dollars in scholarships from culinary arts schools. Though they're all seeking different paths, they said it's amazing to see their options expanding.

"My mom was at the competition with us, and people were telling her, 'have your daughter call us because we want her to go to school here.' I'm like, 'oh my goodness, thank you.'" Asia Howard said.

Stephanie Rodriguez

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