January 24, 2007
reported by natalie grise
Since Hurricane Rita, students in Sowela's culinary school have had to make-do with the kitchen at the the Lake Charles Civic Center -- one that's not equipped for learning. The hardships didn't stop some students who were entered in a prestigious national competition. In fact, one student from the small Louisiana school battled the big boys and won.
Most college bowl games involve a pigskin. This one does too, except they use pork -- and real bowls. "It was a national competition. Sowela is a small culinary school, there's only like 36 of us here," says Master Butcher and Sowela Instructor Stan Plues. Size wasn't the only obstacle they beat, the school's educational kitchen was ruined in the hurricane. "We're doing pretty good considering the conditions we've got, we share it with caterers and sometimes we cant do the things we need to," says Plues. "We just have to make do with what we've got and do the best with what we have," says culinary student Wilton "Boogie" Kegley.
Aand their best takes some creative cooking. "I cut the pork in a different way, that hadn't be done before, and Boogie worked on the stuffing," says Plues. His new seafood stuffing reflected his Gulf Coast roots. "Growing up in Louisiana, it just kinda comes natural for us," says Kegley.
Meaning a big win for the small school. "But to me, it doesn't matter if it's a big or small school. For Sowela to win, its fantastic. It proves to everybody in the country that bigger isnt always better," says Plues. So you guys are kinda like the Boise State of culinary schools? "Yes, I guess we are. We're waiting for the next competition, cause we're gonna whip them all now," says Plues.