North High School Senior and Culinary Arts Student Jesstina Henry

Sioux City, Iowa - A passion for the culinary profession has opened doors for aspiring chef Jesstina Henry.  The culinary arts and ProStart program at North High School has taught Jesstina Henry as much about cooking as it has about the power of connections.

“I truly do love the culinary profession. Learning about it and gaining the connections I have with those around me is something I will hold onto forever,” says Jesstina, whose interest in culinary arts started by cooking at home.

Jesstina registered for Family and Consumer Science classes during her freshman year and became hooked.

“I have been in the culinary program since my freshman year. My stepmom really thought it would be beneficial to join. And, it has been,” adds Jesstina. “The education and nonstop learning every day has kept my interest high throughout my four years in high school.”

That interest only grew when Jesstina had the opportunity to help prepare for the MasterChef Junior Live! show at the Orpheum Theatre last fall. A once-in-a-lifetime chance gave Jesstina the opportunity to be part of the show too.

“One of my favorite events was the food truck wars last year. My amazing group and I worked hard to create a whole business plan for a food truck. Along with creating a menu, we had to cook an item from that menu and then present it to guests that came to see the event in class,” says Jesstina.

This year, Jesstina’s role with the culinary arts program has evolved. She is serving as a teacher’s assistant (TA), helping guide students in their labs and creating connections along the way. It’s an opportunity that Jesstina says helps her feel like she’s giving back to the teacher and program that have given so much to her - and connecting with those around her.

“I love being a TA as it feels like I am giving back to Mrs. (Kelsey) Miller for all the hard work she put into my education. I have an opportunity to give my knowledge to her students this year,” Jesstina says.

As Jesstina looks to the future, she is savoring every moment of her final high school year, from volunteering in the community to playing varsity tennis at North High School. She is also continuing her studies in culinary arts.

“My plan after high school is to complete my second and final year in the culinary arts program at Western Iowa Tech Community College. I got a head start being able to enroll in the culinary program this year, and I plan to take advantage of it.”