Ever since he can remember, Colt Schultz has dreamed of being a chef.

“I remember always tugging on my mom’s leg in the kitchen, trying to see what she was cooking,” he said.

Now a graduate of Clear Springs High School’s culinary school, Schultz, 18, is much closer to making that dream a reality. The recent graduate will travel to Kazan, Russia, this summer to take part in the prestigious WorldSkills competition where he will be the youngest and only member of his team from the United States out of more than 340,000 students that compete, according to school officials.

It is only the latest happening in what has been an increasingly acclaimed cooking career for the young man.

“I was speechless,” Schultz said. “The WorldSkills competition is held every two years in a different country and is a very similar format to the Olympics. This is a huge deal competing against the very best in the world.”

While Schultz has always been interested in what’s happening in the kitchen, his culinary career really began in eighth grade when he took part in a competition sponsored by the Clear Springs High School culinary program and then began helping older students with their cooking and catering needs, he said.

From there, Schultz joined the culinary program and began competing in different high school competitions and quickly placing at those events, he said.

As a sophomore, Schultz finished in second place at the SkillsUSA Restaurant Service regional competition and advanced to the state level, where he finished first and then fourth in the nation, he said.

Schultz then received an invitation to compete for a spot on the WorldSkills USA team as a junior, he said.

Since being selected for the team, Schultz has trained with an expert to improve his cooking and restaurant knowledge and, in November, even traveled to France to familiarize himself with European-style cooking, he said.

The competition in August will consist of Schultz making dinner for four guests at their table, including mixed drinks, duck flambe and a cheese presentation, among other items, he said.

Returning from Russia, Schultz won’t have much time to rest on his laurels. Very quickly, he’ll be off to college at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he’ll study for a degree in food service management and an associate’s degree in culinary arts.

“Right after school, I want to get into a kitchen and get dirty and learn all the ropes,” he said.

But, with any luck, the connections he makes will open up opportunities in New York, he said. Ideally, Schultz hopes to one day open a fine dining restaurant, serving his favorite cuisine, Italian food, he said.

“It will be the sort of place where a suit will be required,” he said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


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