Dedication: The Secret Spice for the Sauk Rapids-Rice Culinary Team
SAUK RAPIDS -- The Sauk Rapids-Rice Culinary Team is one of the most successful in the nation, and their secret is an open one: dedication.
They're ten-time defending state champs in management, they've crossed the national stage twice in the past decade, 2013 and 2016 and have been named in the top 50 programs in the country for five years in a row.
Mary Levinksi is the ProStart Culinary and Management Team Advisor. She says along with the team's dedication, which sees students take time away from work and family to make sure they're at their best, they also do a lot of research to maintain their edge.
"We like to do a lot of research. We like to see what's on the cutting edge of the industry, what's new. Then we try to find mentors that understand the new trends, and then help us to grasp those concepts so we can recreate them in the classroom."
The team will be in a special super bowl event this weekend as well. Levinski says the "Taste of the NFL" is big deal featuring with some of the best chefs in the country.
"Chefs from all major 32 NFL cities. They represent the teams, and they put together small plates for the people who buy tickets to attend this event. Really to support food shelves and preventing hunger."
The team starts to participate in that on Friday and Saturday, their day Friday will kick off at 4:00 a.m. They'll spend all day with the chefs on Saturday helping them serve the guests attending the event.
Levinksi recently won the American Culinary Federation's Teach of the Year award for the Minneapolis Chapter.
That award usually only goes to a college instructor, and is given to "an active culinary instructor whose knowledge, skills and expertise have enhanced the image of the professional chef, and who, by example has given leadership, guidance, and direction to students seeking a career in the culinary profession".
Several of Levinski's students have gone on to successful culinary careers, at some big name restaurants on both coasts, and here in Minnesota.