College has started early for recent Penta County Skills Center graduate Josh Blochowski, who reported for classes at the Culinary Institute of America in early July. Though he didn’t start high school with a food-related career in mind, he excelled at it, and won several important awards that earned him a spot at CIA, which has trained such famous chefs as Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, and Anne Burrell.
“I liked helping my grandma in the kitchen when I was very young,” Blochowski recalls, “and I always liked experimenting with food preparation. I worked at Bumble Olive Oil Company while I was in high school, and learned a lot about playing with flavors and how to talk about food with people. I had an internship at Registry Bistro, and found that I liked the adrenaline rush of working in a busy kitchen. I worked long hours, but I loved the stress and excitement.”
Testing Culinary Skills
Blochowski competed quite successfully in several competitions as a high school student, and he credits Penta with “great preparation” for those opportunities to test his skills. “I learned a lot about food safety, restaurant management, and the history of foods, as well as how to cook,” he explains. “We studied academic subjects like math and literature, but applied them to the culinary arts, which was great.
In June, he competed in the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, KY, against other culinary arts state winners. He earned a silver medal, placing second, making him one of the top two culinary arts students in the United States. He prepared a 4-course meal with an arugula salad and a chicken roulade, a chicken consomme with farmers cheese dumplings, a sauteed chicken breast with brown rice pilaf, carrots and green beans and chasseur sauce, and a braised chicken in a red pepper and tomato sauce with braised leeks and roasted garlic potatoes.
He earned a spot in the national competition by winning a gold medal at the 2015 SkillsUSA Ohio Championship in Columbus in the spring of 2015, where he prepared a two-course meal with a Bibb lettuce salad with a pickled shallot dressing and vegetable garnishes, and a sauteed chicken breast with risotto, glazed carrots and chasseur sauce.
‘Chef Bloch’ also earned a second place award at the Ohio ProStart Invitational, where his Thai-themed meal included an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert.
As a junior, he also participated on a Penta team competing in the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America event, serving as Team Leader and helping his team win a second prize, as they prepared prepared a salad with roasted pears and bleu cheese, a roasted pork tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes and a strawberry shortcake biscuit.
In June, 2015, Blochowski was recognized by the Ohio House of Representatives and named to the Class of 2015 Ohio Career-Tech Exemplars by the Ohio Department of Education office of Career Technical Education and the Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education.
The CIA motto, “Food is Life,” is a principle Blochowski embraces. He tweets that his first days at the CIA have been wonderful, and that he is exactly where he should be, beginning his studies toward a PhD in Science and Research Aspects of Food.
Josh’s parents Mike and Kris Blochowski are proud of their son, and Josh reports that his mom doesn’t worry that he is a better cook than she is. Josh says, “She doesn’t like to cook, anyway, and she definitely likes it when I cook dinner, except for the mess I leave at the end of the meal.”