Chef Cat Cora to Appear as Judge for Belgrade ProStart Fundraiser at Big Sky’s Buck’s T-4 Lodge


Accomplished Chef and Television Personality Joins Local Chefs for High School Culinary Competition. Sponsored by The Rapier Family Foundation.

Chef Cat Cora is heading to Big Sky to judge the Belgrade High School’s culinary competition. The Belgrade team recently won the state ProStart contest and is raising money for their upcoming trip to the ProStart nationals in Baltimore in April. The contest will take place April 11, 2013 at Big Sky’s Buck’s T-4 Lodge. Students will pair up with professional chefs from the region for a “black box” cooking competition. Teams will have one hour to prepare dishes using a surprise ingredient. Tickets are $20 and can by obtained from Buck’s T-4 at 995-4111 or any Belgrade ProStart student.

Chef Cat Cora

On and off-screen, Chef Cat Cora continues to make a lasting impression on the culinary community. Her food aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in 2006, Bon Appetit named her Executive Chef and bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year award. From partnering with Macy’s for a new restaurant concept that premiered in December, 2008 to her first standalone restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort in September, 2009, Cat’s bringing a taste of her culinary influence to both coasts. She is host, along with Curtis Stone, of Around The World in 80 Plates, on Bravo.

With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and state restaurant association partners, ProStart reaches more than 95,000 students in 1,700 high schools across 47 states. By bringing together the industry and the classroom, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents to open doors for fulfilling careers. It happens through a curriculum that includes all facets of the industry, and sets a high standard of excellence for students and the industry.

The National ProStart Invitational is the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. Annually, 350 student competitors put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, NRAEF Trustees, state restaurant associations, and family and friends – all with an eye on scholarship to pursue further industry education.

“We are tremendously excited to bring Chef Cora to Big Sky and treat her to Montana hospitality”, said Chuck Schommer, Buck’s Owner/F&B Director. “Her dedication and commitment to education and her passion for teaching families healthy eating habits at home make her an excellent role model for these aspiring chefs”. Schommer has been a mentor to the Belgrade ProStart program since 2007, and has helped them win four consecutive state competitions. Schommer, a mainstay of the Montana culinary scene and former guest chef at the James Beard House, has been the culinary force at Big Sky’s renowned Buck’s T-4 for nearly 30 years.

The Belgrade High School ProStart program was started by Family & Consumer Sciences teacher Bev Tompers. Since instituting the program in 2007, Tompers, Schommer and mentor Debbie Finkbeiner of Belgrade’s Black Cat Catering have given over 100 aspiring culinary professionals a head start in their careers. Many are working in the industry today.

In addition to the black box competition, the evening will feature a live and silent auction. Hors D’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 and the competition begins at 7:00. Tickets are $20 and are available at Buck’s T-4.