Students from Triplett Tech excel at national event

By Josette Keelor

It wasn’t long ago that Jordan Palmer of Quicksburg and Cody Fitchett of Fort Valley made history as part of the largest group of students from Triplett Tech ever to make it to the SkillsUSA Virginia competition in Roanoke last April.

Now, as the first Triplett Tech students to attend the national SkillsUSA Championships, they’ve done it again.

The experience at nationals in Kansas City at the end of June was a lot like state was, Palmer said, “just a lot more people.”

He was tasked with a pre-assigned list of ingredients to craft four courses.

For the salad course, he prepared a Romaine bowl with arugula, rutabaga and tomato with Caesar dressing. His soup dish was cream of mushroom, garnished with split peas and rosemary-infused olive oil.

For one entrée he prepared a pork roulade stuffed with ground turkey, bacon and onion over couscous with a demi-glace sauce and vegetable medley; and for another an airline chicken breast over a pepper onion and potato hash garnished with edamame, using snow peas instead of soybeans.

Palmer came in 11th out of 31 contestants, winning a Skill Point Certificate in Culinary Arts. Cody came in 13th out of 40 to win Skill Point Certificate in Commercial Baking.

At 18, Palmer said he was one of the youngest in his postgraduate group.

“They were in culinary school,” he said. “They’ve been doing it for longer than I have.”

Cody, 17, was on the older side of his high school group, but he kept his cool while preparing several baked goods from a formatted sheet of items.

Excluding a lunch break, he had from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to bake a pineapple pie, braided and loaf yeast breads, two loaves of pumpkin bread, sugar cookie dough, coffee cake and a raspberry danish as well as tort, ice and decorate a sponge cake with three yellow roses.

“It was a lot,” he said. But he looks back on the experience as a good time.

“I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of things,” he said. “I met a lot of cool people and a lot of different people.”

Next February he’ll start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Palmer, who graduated from Triplett Tech two years ago, plans to attend Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado. A line chef in the kitchen at Joe’s Steakhouse in Woodstock, he said head chef Joe Wilkins has helped him toward success so far in his culinary career.

He and Cody both thanked Triplett Tech culinary arts teacher Paje Cross for helping them get this far, Cody hastily adding, “I got to thank my parents for this one too.”

“No one has ever in Triplett Tech history gone to the national culinary championships.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com