The guides behind the glory: Terry Vantiger |

The guides behind the glory: Terry Vantiger

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Julie SutorSummit High School culinary arts teacher Terri Vantiger lends a hand to freshmen Daniel Headley, center, and Tucker Manton. Vantiger is the recipient of the National Restaurant Associations Colorado Teacher of the Year award. Vantigers students have won first place in the seven-state regional Teen Chef of America competition for three years running.

FARMER’S KORNER – Summit High School teacher Terri Vantiger has achieved the triple crown of the high school culinary arts world.For three years in a row, Vantiger’s star students have captured the regional title in the Teen Chef of America Competition at the Art Institute of Colorado (AIC) in Denver. Last month, SHS senior Alison Burns out-sliced, -diced and -sautéed her competitors from a seven-state region. And she’ll travel to Philadelphia next month in a bid for the national title. In doing so, Burns has followed in the footsteps of recent SHS grads Jeanette Abeyta and Matt Vawter-Beaird who minced the competition at the regional contest in 2004 and 2003, respectively.

“We had a three-day weekend not too long ago, and on her day off, Terri spent the whole day working with Alison on her knife-cuts,” said assistant principal Jim Hesse. “We’re very fortunate to have people like this. We’ve got great teachers and great students who are really motivated.”Vantiger’s motivation and dedication haven’t gone unnoticed outside Summit County. The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation recently named her Colorado’s Outstanding ProStart Teacher of the Year. She’ll head to Chicago next month to receive the award and have the chance at being selected for the national honor.Six years ago, Vantiger initiated the SHS ProStart program – a partnership between the school and the local restaurant community, which gives students hands-on experience in Summit County’s commercial kitchens under the umbrella of a national curriculum. Since then, the program’s local graduates have gone on to attend top culinary schools and own their own restaurants.

“Teachers like Terri demonstrate how restaurants are the cornerstone of career and employment opportunities and have an enormous impact on the future of our industry,” said Mary Adolph, president of the National Restaurant Association Education Fund.Despite her successes, Vantiger is modest.”I credit the Summit County Restaurant Association (SCRA), the ProStart curriculum and the Summit School District Administration,” Vantiger said. “And also, (CMC culinary program director) Kevin Clarke, Keystone Conference Center chef Joe Damonte and (SCRA president) Bobby Starekow for mentoring Alison and the competition teams.”

And awards notwithstanding, she says her real satisfaction comes from working day-in and day-out with Summit students, just as she has been for the past 21 years.”I really love to expose the kids to cooking, foods and cultures they haven’t seen before,” she said. “We made baked Alaska last week, and they had no idea what it was. They said, ‘How do you bake ice cream?'”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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