Since 2012, the ACF Washington State Chefs Association has hosted the Bite of Apprentice, a fundraiser that brings together apprentices from restaurants and students from schools to compete for having the Best Bite. Proceeds from this fundraiser are donated to the Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation’s (WHAEF) ProStart program.

This year, the title of Best Bite went to none other than Bonney Lake High School ProStart students. Bonney Lake took second place in this year’s Washington State ProStart Invitational culinary competition, and took their excellence to the Bite of Apprentice event, beating out apprentices from successful restaurants and college students studying the culinary arts.

Kahale Ahina, CSC, is the ProStart educator at Bonney Lake High School. The WHAEF reached out to him to get more information about the Bite of Apprentice event, and the strategy he and the students used in the competition.

“When Chef Tony Parker of Renton Technical College invited me to participate, I took it as an honor to be invited to an event at this high professional level! I also think he was calling me out, so I felt I had to take on the challenge. Plus, it would be a great learning experience for my students as I am always looking for authentic culinary experiences for students. Additionally, I am an ACF certified chef, so as a member of the chapter I wanted to support the group.”
-Kahale Ahina

The students were already accustomed to going up against stiff competition; they regularly practice, compete and cater on a professional level, as well as being able to immerse themselves in establishments in the industry. Ahina enlisted the help of a senior student, Dalton Workman, to be the sous chef and the student lead for the event.

“It was an honor to be the sous chef of this event for our club. My mentor, Chef Ahina, led me in the right direction to be successful. I hope to soon be the lead of another event. The process teaches me lots about the restaurant biz, which I want to get into in the future.”
-Dalton Workman

The menu that won the Bite of Apprentice competition for Bonney Lake consisted of raw offerings; the second level team, which competed, studies “a garde manger unit (cold foods/appetiziers), and their theme was titled, “Raw, Raw, Ohh, La, La!”  Each competing team is tasked with creating two to three appetizers, and Bonney Lake decided to go for it and create three!

The team took its inspiration from the core of its program: Kahale Ahina, their partnering restaurant, Heartwood Provisions, and their chef mentor, Chef Eric Hellner. The first appetizer was ahi poke on a fried wonton chip, a recipe inspired by Ahina’s own life. He was raised on poke, and now showcases poke whenever the opportunity arises.  The second appetizer was the hamachi tuna salad, which is on the menu of their partnering restaurant. Then, Ahina asked the Bonney Lake chef mentor for ideas about what the Metropolitan Grill would showcase as a raw dish – A5 Kobe steak tartare. So, the final offering was steak tartare served on a crostini. When asked what the students’ reactions were to the announcement of the winners, Kahale said, “Screaming. Yelling. Fist pumps. Hugs and smiles for days.” These young people worked hard for this achievement, and deserve the recognition for their efforts!

So, what’s next for the students of Bonney Lake High School’s ProStart program?  Well, before the Bit of Apprentice competition, they had just completed a 120 person, two course meal, and spent two days after the competition visiting and working five hour shifts at Farrelli’s Wood-Fired Pizza in Sumner. They also provided a 2,100 Easter egg coloring service for the Muckleshoots. They are now currently preparing and practicing for their top chef cooking finals, and will be cooking for several other year-end events!  Congratulations on this big win, Bonney Lake High School!

By Emily Hearn