CARVER SCHOOL TEAM IN NATIONAL FINALS: Dan Portelance’s career in the culinary trades began as a boy in his family’s New Bedford restaurant. Now 43 and the culinary arts instructor at Carver Middle High School for the past six years, the Marion resident loves imparting his passion for the business to his students.
His efforts, and more important, he says, that of his pupils, have paid off. Next month, they’re going to the 12th annual National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore, a restaurant-management and culinary-arts competition in which students from 43 states and US territories compete for $1.4 million in scholarships.
To get there, the restaurant-management side of the Carver team won first place in the 2013 Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s ProStart Management Competition this month at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston. Last year, the team’s culinary component won first place in the state competition, placing second this year.
“For high school kids in the culinary arts, this is like the Super Bowl,” Portelance said. “They go down and get treated like royalty. The judges are chefs and there not to critique the kids, but help them and build them up.”
And they’re not just any cooks judging, but 14 designated as master chefs in the country, from a pool of just 72 nationwide, said Portelance, former executive chef for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, who also runs a restaurant consulting firm.
There are 125 Carver Middle High School students taking one of five culinary courses, all electives, the only non-academic electives at the school, he said. The eight to 10 students in competition train above and beyond the regular classroom, coming in during school vacations and times when they could be off doing other things.
While some take the courses as something to fill an elective, many are serious about what they do. Portelance said several of his students have gone on to study at such prestigious culinary schools as the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, and the New England Culinary Institute.
The restaurant-management component that won the state competition was named “Genesis,” and focused on a sustainable menu, locally grown produce, and community involvement, with the slogan “The Responsible Restaurant.”
Interest in the culinary arts has definitely been fueled by shows on the Food Network and other channels, Portelance said, adding, “Kids will come to class and say ‘Did you see ‘Chopped’ last night?’ And then we’ll have a great conversation about it.”
And though the team will be competing nationally in the management side, the whole squad will help out. Portelance said his cooking students have even volunteered to help train the state’s winning culinary team from Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill for the national title.
“The restaurant industry is a brotherhood,” Portelance said. “We instill that in our students.”
Airfare and hotel fees for their trip are paid for by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. The team will hold small fund-raisers to pay other expenses, such as one on tap after a school play April 13 at which they’ll sell desserts.
Donations are also being accepted. Contact Portelance at PortelanD@carver.org for information.
“I like getting questions from people about things like, say, if they had a bad experience at a restaurant,” he said. “I let the kids answer those. It’s all part of their training, those are things we can talk about they can learn from.”
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Rhiannon Kimball of Quincy was named the food pantry manager of Interfaith Social Services of Quincy, taking over from Bettyanne Lang of Weymouth, who retired after more than 20 years of service. Kimball oversees Interfaith’s Pantry Shelf, Career Closet, Harvest Helpers, and Learning Pantry programs, and supervises the hundreds of volunteers who serve in the programs each year. Interfaith’s emergency food program is one of the largest food pantries in the area, serving more than 18,000 South Shore residents annually.
Katie Howard of Weymouth was appointed to Jordan Hospital’s Community Business Partner Committee. She is executive director of the South Shore Women’s Business Network, and prior to joining the network in 2002 as director of development, was director of sales and marketing for the Cohasset Harbor Resort, and director of marketing for the Boston Ski & Sports Club.
Weymouth-based South Shore Bank was named “Lender of the Quarter” by the Massachusetts office of the US Small Business Administration, in recognition of the bank’s high level of SBA lending activity for the first quarter of the administration’s fiscal year. South Shore Bank had 19 SBA loan approvals during the quarter, making it the third-most-active SBA lender in the state, said John C. Boucher, president and CEO of the bank.
Adam Brodsky (above) of Scituate was made a partner in the Hingham law firm of Drohan Tocchio & Morgan. He has more than 25 years experience in environmental, regulatory, and business law. He serves on the board of trustees for the Central New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and is a former member of the Scituate Conservation Commission. He is also a member of Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham, and an official with USA Cycling.Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Kandarian@globe.com