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Any way you slice it, Henderson County culinary instructor among best in state

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association gave the ProStart instructor Christine Mukosiej the 2018 Educator of Excellence Award, which is given to an outstanding culinary instructor each year. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Our Person of the Week gives Henderson County students a taste of the skills they'll rely on to feed their families someday.

"Go ahead and start looking over the recipe," Christine Mukosiej said recently to her class at Henderson County Career Academy.

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association gave the ProStart instructor the 2018 Educator of Excellence Award, which is given to an outstanding culinary instructor each year. Right now, Christine is in Chicago for the ProStart Educator Excellence Awards along with other outstanding teachers from around the country.

"I love to be able to teach life them skills that hopefully they can use one day," she told us.

Everyone has a different recipe for success, but in Christine's case maybe life's a lot like pizza.

"But that's the good thing about fruit pizza, you can put anything you want on it," she told her kids.

Fruit pizza happens to be the fun byproduct of lessons she hopes feeds them for years to come.

"You're still gonna hold the knife the way I've taught you to, you're just being super super careful," she said, cutting up a pineapple.

In her kitchen, she breaks down essential knife skills.

"Getting really really close to the skin," she said, peeling kiwi with a spoon. "And then, paring knife is fine. You can go ahead and slice it."

"She's just a really awesome teacher," said Chloe Staton, who wants to become a pastry chef after high school. "And she's very smart, and she knows a lot about cooking. She's a really good connection as far as colleges and stuff like that."

"She let's us do a lot," said Bezium Quinn. "We get to clean, cook, it's all of the above. It's actually great in this class."

The fruit of her labor pays off with trust.

"You need to have a positive relationship with the student first, and, if you develop that positive relationship, they're going to trust you," she said.

Cooking's been her passion since she was a kid.

"It's my grandfather's favorite picture of me, probably two or three years old covered in flour," she recalls. "Because I mean I dove right in."

Now, she gives young people a sense of fun and serious business in the industry, preaching the importance of not wasting food.

"Your boss is going to get on you because that's money out of their pocket that you're just throwing in the trash can," she said.

"Whether they choose a career in culinary or hospitality, everyone needs to eat," Christine says. "Hopefully, I can teach them how to cook and provide healthy meals for themselves."

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