Cleburne High School senior Savannah King will be entering the STAR events competition at this week’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America State Conference as a Regional gold medalist.
King is making her second appearance at the FCCLA state conference, taking place in Dallas, following silver medal wins at Regional and State in 2017. As a junior, she was a successful contestant in the Family Consumer Sciences Assessment.
This year, King chose to compete in Applied Math for Culinary Management, Occupationally Specific, for several reasons.
“This touches on marketing, which will be my major in college,” King said. “This event also requires math, which is something I like. “
She is also familiar with the event, having worked closely with 2017 graduate Bryan Duran, who took the gold medal in state competition, and represented Texas in the event at the FCCLA national conference.
“Last year, Bryan went to Regionals and placed fourth, which qualified him for state,” King said. “When he came back, we took his presentation apart and tweaked it. I really wanted to see him place at higher at state—and he did. I enjoyed being a part of that, especially seeing him go on to nationals.”
“I’m excited to be going to state in this same event,” she said. “But it has been very time consuming. I started working on my presentation in January and finished it the week of the Regional contest at the end of February, so it took about a month and half.”
In the Applied Math contest, which is designed to give participants a real-world challenge, contestants analyze the cost of a recipe, from purchase to presentation. A math exam is also included.
“You take a recipe, in my case the chicken salad recipe we serve in Culinary Arts that everybody loves,” King said. “I went to the ‘virtual grocery store’ on the internet to price the ingredients, then divided it by six to analyze single serving costs for menu pricing. This would be something I would have to do as a restaurant manager or owner to make sure I am meeting my bottom line and profit margin, while also addressing customer service.”
While King believed the time and effort she put into her project made it competitive, making her presentation before judges took things to a whole new level.
“My legs were shaking the whole time,” she said. “They didn’t ask my any questions, which made me even more nervous. The other contestants said they were questioned about their entries, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was shocked to get first.”
King says she anticipates being nervous again Friday afternoon, as she faces judges as the final competitor in her event.
“I would love to go on to nationals,” she said. “There are ten other competitors, on teams or individuals like me, who are entered. Some are from big culinary arts programs. I’m just going to wait and see—and hope for the best.”
Culinary Arts teacher Margaret Alexander describes King as a student who is always willing to do what it takes—and then some--and understands what it takes to be successful.
“Savannah is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Alexander said. “Whether she is getting to school early to help out with an event or staying late to clean up afterwards, she never complains. She understands what it takes to be successful. I am so excited to see where her future takes her. I am honored to call her one of my students.”
King said that while she cooked on occasion as a child, she didn’t “really do much” until she came to CHS as a sophomore and enrolled in the culinary arts program.
“I like cooking savory things, but everyone loves my Nutella Chocolate Cake,” she said. “Kids and adults have offered to pay me to make one for them. We had one on display at our culinary arts booth at the Multicultural Fair. It’s not my recipe—I found it on the internet--but it takes a long time to make. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I do like that cake.”
King says she has had very few disasters in the kitchen of the culinary arts lab, attributing that to her desire to take things at a measured pace rather than rushing through.
“I did burn a lot of bacon one time,” she said. “I finally got it right, but it took several batches. I love coming to culinary arts and learning recipes. Mrs. Alexander has been a support system for me. She has taught me to keep trying, to be proud of myself. She has helped me when I have a made a mistake—in a recipe or life. She has showed me that you should try again and move on.”
“I also enjoy culinary arts because of the opportunity to interact with others and to help beginning students,” she said. “It almost feels like being a student teacher. I love it when I’m in my chef’s uniform. I want to be a leader, but I’m also a perfectionist. There’s probably been times when they’ve wanted to take my head off.”
Classmate Alaina English says when it comes to cooking, King is respected as the head chef.
“Savannah has a really good attitude,” English said. “She takes charge, but not in a rude way. She has the presence of a head chef or a manager. We follow her lead. She has a maturity about her. I really look up to her. I can see myself in her shoes someday—if I work hard enough.”
Despite several college offers and acceptances from the deep south, including Middle Georgia State, Dalton State College and Reinhardt University, King has decided to stay in the Lone Star state, and will be attending Texas A & M University at Commerce.
“I thought I wanted to go out of state, but as it got closer to graduation, I felt I needed to stay in Texas,” she said. “A & M Commerce has been very welcoming, very accepting. I’m excited to go to school there.”
In addition to her achievements in culinary arts and FCCLA, King serves as president of the CHS chapter of FCCLA.
Cleburne High School Culinary Arts senior Savannah King will be among the STAR events competitors at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America State Leadership Conference taking place in Dallas. She was the gold medalist in Applied Math for Culinary Management at the Regional contest and is competing at the state level for the second consecutive year.