The Career Advantage program held its annual Cook-Off event on Saturday, April 9th at 10 am in the home economics room at Parkersburg South High School.
The Cook-Off is held once a year for Career Advantage participants and is one of the favorite events for not only the youth participants but also the Case Managers. The event allows Career Advantage participants the opportunity to work on leadership, teamwork, and communication skills needed in the workplace. The Case Managers are able to observe their participants in a simulated work environment. They are able to see their processing speed and their ability to communicate and work under pressure. The Case Managers are able to review their observations with the participants after the event and discuss any challenges or areas of concern.
“The annual Career Advantage Cook-Off is a great opportunity for our participants to practice life and work skills in a realistic setting and interact with people their own age in a team environment. It is a fun time for everyone involved and the food is usually very good too,” said Kristy Deem, Career Advantage Case Manager-Wirt and Wood counties.
The participants form teams in their counties or partner with another county to form a larger team and begin planning months before the event. The participants are in charge of coming up with their own recipes and also have to stay within a strict budget. They were given a limited amount of time in which to cook and were not only judged on their food but also on work area cleanliness and teamwork. The teams made pasta entrées and cupcakes and awards were given for the “Best Pasta” and “Best Cupcake.” The dishes were judged on aroma, color, texture, and flavor and special awards were given to the two teams that display the best teamwork/communication skills and the best overall team. Staff from different agencies within the region volunteered to be judges for the event. Erin Anderson, Substance Abuse Coordinator for Westbrook Health Services –Region 3, Glen Tanner, Master’s Level Therapist- Wellsprings Family Services, and Emily Batten, Adult Education Instructor for RESA 5 in Roane County were the judges for the event. Barbara Boardman, Instructor for the ProStart program at the Wood County Technical Center, also assisted in the day’s events.
The Best Pasta Award was given to the Wood County Team for their “Jerk Chicken Pasta,” The Best Cupcake was awarded to the Wood/Mason County team for their “Mountain Dew Strawberry Cupcakes.” The Best Teamwork Award was given to the Pleasants/Ritchie County Team. The Best Overall Award went to the Calhoun/Roan County team for their “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes” and “Chicken Bacon Pasta with Garlic Cream Sauce.”