Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 7

Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 7
Posted on 05/31/2019
Graduate Profile

By: Sydney Hunt, Senior Communications Specialist

Colt Schultz has had a knack for cooking ever since he was old enough to reach the counter in his kitchen.

“I just loved to explore and experiment with my mom,” Colt said. “I remember always tugging on her leg and asking her what she was putting in her recipes.”

In middle school, he took a home economics class which hosted a culinary competition. Organizers selected a team of one elementary, one intermediate and one high school student to and cook against another team. This is where he was introduced to the possibilities of continuing his interest in cooking at Clear Springs High School.

“I remember the high school student who was with me on the team talking to me about the Culinary Program at Clear Springs, which I didn’t know much about,” Colt said. “So, I was immediately interested in getting involved.”

Still in eighth grade, he took the time to reach out to the program director, Chef Kathleen Roussel, to talk through what he needed to do and what classes he needed to take his freshman year so he would be ready to apply for the program his sophomore year.

When he reached high school, he dedicated his free time to helping the upperclassmen in the program during competitions and catering jobs.

“There was one time where they had a catering job for about 200 people, and I just wanted to find a way to help in any way I could,” Colt said. “I ended up staying after school one day to wash 300 plates and had them set and prepped for the catering students. Chef saw the passion I had and how committed I was and ended up letting me help a little throughout the rest of the year.”

At the end of freshman year, Colt had a formal interview with Chef Roussel for the Culinary Program. There is a limit of around only 20 students per grade level who are accepted, and he received one of these coveted spots in the program.

Colt then set his focus on the competitions associated with the program his sophomore year. Out of the three possible competition categories, Chef Roussel recommended he explore the Restaurant Service side, which includes cooking components paired with fine-dining service.

“I am a very outgoing person, and you have to have those skills to compete in Restaurant Service since it is not only cooking, but also interacting with the guests,” Colt said. “Chef, and her husband Chef Tate Roussel, then poured all of their knowledge into training me.”

In February of that year, Colt competed in the SkillsUSA Restaurant Service Regional Competition where he placed second, earning a spot to advance to the state level. After placing first at the State Competition and fourth in the National Competition, Colt was then invited to compete for a spot on the prestigious WorldSkills USA Team his junior year.

“I was speechless,” Colt said. “The WorldSkills competition is held every two years in a different country and is a very similar format to the Olympics. This is a huge deal competing against the very best in the world.”

Only 22 competitors from across the United States qualified to showcase their mastered talent within a wide range of trade industry categories during this year’s WorldSkills, which will be held in Kazan, Russia in August. Colt earned a position on the International WorldSkills Restaurant Service Team, in which he is the youngest and only representative of the United States selected in that area of competition out of more than 360,000 students who compete in SkillsUSA annually.

Colt’s next steps were to begin training with his appointed Restaurant Service expert, Sheila Hyde, out of Dallas who was tasked with helping him prepare for WorldSkills. This included traveling to France this past November to gain experience in an international competition setting.

“I loved the cultural side of it and getting to see the differences in how they train in the European fine dining setting,” Colt said. “Students are groomed over there for the finest dining experience and they format their competition to reflect what we will see at Worlds, and so I definitely learned a lot which will help me in August.”

He said it opened his eyes to not only how he physically needs to prepare for Russia, but mentally as well with the different factors that coincide with traveling internationally, including time change, language barriers and the unfamiliar surroundings. There will be around 25 different grueling components he has to prepare for, compared to the five he had at the National competition, which he must learn by heart while pushing through these added struggles.

As for after graduation, Colt will continue to focus on his training with Sheila and preparing for life after the WorldSkills competition. In September, he will begin college at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and will be studying for a bachelor’s degree in food service management and an associate degree in culinary arts.

“It is one of the highest, most well-rated culinary schools in America,” Colt said. “They have so many connections that will help me after college in my professional career.”

His future aspirations are to one day open a fine-dining restaurant, or chain of restaurants, to express and fulfill his passion within the culinary field. He would also like to incorporate the high standards of etiquette from restaurants overseas into his business by continuing to travel and train oversees.

“I am so thankful to my parents, who have always been my biggest cheerleaders, and Chef Kathleen and Chef Tate for getting me to where I am today,” Colt said. “I can’t imagine the course my life would have taken if I didn’t have the opportunity in high school to experience all I have up to this point to help me find my passion in life.”

To follow along with Colt’s journey at the WorldSkills competition in August, visit www.worldskillsusa.org.

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