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National Restaurant Association - ProStart gives airman a lift

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ProStart gives airman a lift

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As a high school student at Capital Region BOCES in Albany, N.Y., Nick Hochmuth learned to bake, boil and braise, as well as proper knife techniques.

Last week, the skills he learned as a ProStart student came rushing back during seminars at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone in California.

As a winner of the National Restaurant Association Military Foundation's Kenneth W. Disney Award, Hochmuth was selected to participate in the NRAMF's Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence. He and 24 other outstanding servicemen and women participated in seminars, hands-on cooking activities and career-counseling sessions during the weeklong program.

"One of my favorite parts of being here was being able to bake," the 28-year-old senior airman said.

As a member of the Air National Guard, Hochmuth spends one weekend a month and two weeks a year as part of the Force Support Squadron with the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, N.Y. But he has little opportunity to use the baking skills he has developed since high school.

After graduating from the NRA's ProStart program, a two-year culinary and hospitality management curriculum for high school students, Hochmuth received an associate's degree in culinary arts with a baking concentration. As part of his degree, he completed an internship at Disney World. After joining the Air Guard, he received foodservice training at Lackland Air Force Base.

The Greystone forum helped him refresh some of his knowledge and skills, and now Hochmuth is thinking about returning to baking. He intends to stay in the Air National Guard for 20 years, so he'll need a job that lets him complete his reservist duties.

"I had a fantastic time, cooking and meeting all these different people," Hochmuth said.

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