Columbia Students Sweep National Culinary and Baking Contests

Mon 07/08/13 - 09:11

Two Columbia Area Career Center (CACC) students took first place in their respective fields at the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference competition for high school students. Hailey King, 2013 Rock Bridge Senior High School graduate, won the culinary arts competition and Heather Pitt, 2013 David H. Hickman High School graduate, won the commercial baking competition.

King is the third Missouri student to win the national culinary arts competition and Pitt is the first Missouri student to win the national commercial baking competition. Both students were offered full four-year scholarships to many of the country’s top culinary schools.

"Congratulations to Hailey and Heather on their national SkillsUSA wins," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "These talented students display the level of determination and skill needed to be highly successful. I wish them the best of luck as they continue furthering their culinary and baking talents."

SkillsUSA and other career and technical education programs are part of the Department's plan for all students in Missouri to graduate high school college- and career-ready. College- and career-readiness is part of the Department's Top 10 by 20 initiative, calling for Missouri to become one of the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020.

The two competitors prepared for the national event with Chefs Brook Harlan, Carri Risner and Jeff Rayl of the Culinary Arts Program at CACC. The three chefs were in agreement that the success of their students stems from the support of CACC’s administration and the Columbia community. “Since starting the program sixteen years ago we have grown tremendously. It is great to have swept the culinary and baking competitions,” they said.

This year marked the 11th straight year that CACC has had a Missouri state champion compete in the national contest for culinary arts. Additionally, five out of the last six years CACC has had commercial baking students win the state championship and compete at the national contest.

Participating states held their SkillsUSA contests in March. The national contest was then held June 24-28 in Kansas City, Missouri. Students from the majority of the 50 states, as well as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, participated.

For more information about SkillsUSA, visit