Sioux City North Pro-Start students show off their culinary skills in 3rd annual Food Truck Wars

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - The Sioux City North High School Pro-Start Program isn’t your average culinary course. It’s put on by the National Restaurant Association and gives students the opportunity to learn advanced culinary skills, food business practices, and participate in special activities like the school’s annual Food Truck Wars.

It’s no surprise that Sioux City North’s Pro-Start Program is one of the more popular electives the school offers. It has two 20-student sessions, and the lucky students who get in are able to take part in some once-in-a-lifetime activities to help advance their culinary skills.

“Earlier this year, they got to work with some kids at the Orpheum that had worked with Gordon Ramsay,” said Kelsey Miller, Family & Consumer Science Teacher at Sioux City North High School. “And so, they’ve done some really cool stuff.”

One of those “really cool” things they get to do each year is the Food Truck Wars. Students work in groups of four to create a business plan and menu for a food truck, and on Wednesday and Thursday, they were able to show off one of their dishes to the school and the community.

“We had to have like a whole binder to organize everything in,” said Jesstina Henry, a junior in North High’s Pro-Start Program. “Because we had about like 3 weeks to prepare for this, so it’s a pretty big deal. It was super fun though. I got to get really close with my current group members right now to really work together to create like a genuine business that could potentially work out, you know, if we get older or something. And we just get to have a lot of creativity on this project. She didn’t have a lot of restrictions on it, so we were really able to just like test our skills and see what we could be able to do for this.”

This is the 3rd time the Pro-Start Program has held Food Truck Wars, and it’s continued to grow over the years. Students in the program are able to invite teachers, administrators and family members to visit and try their dishes. This year, they smashed their previous high in attendance with over 90 customers coming to enjoy the food and learn about the student’s businesses. Additionally, this was the first year where members from local restaurants both helped students with their business plans and came to the Food Truck Wars to give them feedback.

“I’ve been through a few schools growing up, and schools, like they don’t really have I feel like a cooking class like this,” said Henry. “Like, they do have a cooking class, but I feel like the food truck wars is super unique to North, and I just really enjoy that we get to do something super cool like this, and we get to have you guys come in and a bunch of other people come in and get their opinion on how our skill is doing.”

Visitors at the Food Truck Wars are given fake money that they can give to their favorite dish. While all the winner gets is bragging rights, all the students learn valuable skills that many will take with them into their careers.

“These are lifelong skills that these kids are learning,” said Miller. “And a lot of these kids are wanting to go into the restaurant industry, so it just gives them a step above anybody else that would be going into that career pathway.”