GUERNSEY - Although Brock Hohnholt, recent 2021 Guernsey-Sunrise High School graduate is best known for his talents in athletics, he has silently won awards for his culinary talents.
Hohnholt participated in the State Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) contest in Culinary Arts and won the state title. Then due to COVID, he participated at the National contest via ZOOM and earned a silver medal.
According to the FCCLA website, the organization is “a co-curricular program through Family and Consumer Sciences education in public and private school through grade 12. FCCLA is the only national Career and Technical Student Organization with the family as its central focus.
“FCCLA’s Career Pathways (Human Services, Hospitality & Tourism, Education & Training, and Visual Arts & Design) guide students to potential careers and build real world skills by developing projects, participating in Competitive Events, and engaging with youth leaders from around the nation.”
“We are very proud of the work he has done and the recognition for our small town of Guernsey,” said Hohnholt’s teacher Valerie Mills.
Hohnholt joined FCCLA as a senior and exceeded even his own expectations winning the awards.
“I joined FCCLA last year, because Mrs. Mills asked me to join as I was in one of her culinary classes,” Hohnholt said. “She asked me if I’d be on the culinary team, and I said I would, but before anything could happen, the whole thing got shut down because of COVID.”
This year, FCCLA switched the competition from a team-based format to individual due to social distancing.
“I was president of FCCLA, and I just kind of went to have fun,” Hohnholt said. “You get a week out of school to go and compete, although I didn’t go to really be competitive. I got the phone call one day that I won the state championship for culinary, and I was really surprised.”
Hohnholt was a part of many contestants that all had to prepare the same meal.
“They give you a recipe that they judge everyone on,” he said. “It was just a normal ribeye steak with special homestyle mashed potatoes, green beans and bacon with a strawberry parfait for dessert. And you had to do it in under an hour.”
He never got a chance to taste the finished product as they judges swept up his meal and he never saw it again.
“Practicing, though and preparing it, I did a lot of tasting,” he said. “I was then supposed to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for nationals to cook in person, but because of COVID I didn’t meet the deadline because there were already a bunch of kids already who had qualified.”
Although Hohnholt didn’t get the chance to travel, he did end up cooking for the judges anyway.
“I ended up doing it online and sent in my video of my cooking the competition meal,” Hohnholt said. “I really thought it strange that you could send in a video and they could judge you without tasting your food. Since I didn’t get to go, I thought that I probably wouldn’t even get looked at.”
Not only did they look but judged him on his overall kitchen skills and his preparation.
“After I graduated, Mrs. Mills called me and told me that I got second in the whole nation,” Hohnholt said. “There were 450 kids that competed in the United States and I was second out of all of them. I was absolutely just wowed. I didn’t think that anything like that would ever happen.”
For the national competition Hohnholt prepared a chicken breast with a roux, with a side of green beans and risotto. Most teens don’t know how to make ice, but Hohnholt said that he had a good teacher.
“My grandma, Jeannette, she lives in Wheatland now,” he said. “But ever since I was little I was always in the kitchen messin’ around and helping her cook and I just kind of learned, I guess. She used to live right across the street from us and we would cook together every day.”
Hohnholt says that he has no specialty per se, but whether it’s cooking or baking, he has the confidence to whip up something tasty.
Hohnholt who has left for Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Aug. 27 where he is going to learn how to be a lineman, said that it is tough to leave Guernsey.
“I’ve been having a rough time with the team starting (football) practice and watching my little brother play,” Hohnholt said. “It’s kind of heartbreaking, but you know you have to move on to bigger and better things.”
Although his career is not geared toward the culinary area, he has considered it, but said that he found out that many culinary schools are just a waste of money.
“Well, if this doesn’t work out the way I want to, it is a definite possibility to look at cooking,” Hohnholt said. “You never know what’s going to happen. It may be just a side gig because you have to do what you have to do. And, I want to be able to cook for myself so I don’t have to have someone help me and I know I can be on my own.”
Once the word was out that he could cook his family has utilized his talents.
“My mom makes me cook dinner all the time now,” he said. “She didn’t know I could cook like that, so I get to do everything now. They were really surprised with the awards that it even happened, and had a hard time believing me. I just told them, I’m not kidding.”
His favorite thing to cook for his family is stir-fry and they now know he wasn’t kidding.
The mission of FCCLA as published by the organization is, “To promote personal growth and leadership development through Family and Consumer Sciences education. Focusing on the multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader, members develop skills for life through: character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation.”
They also go on to mention that FCCLA is the only in-school student organization with the family as its central focus. FCCLA is a vocational student organization that functions as an integral part of the Family and Consumer Sciences education curriculum and operates within the school system, and it provides opportunities for active student participation at local, state and national levels.