Melinda Dooley is an award-winning culinary arts teacher who led a team of Anchorage high school students to win a statewide cooking competition and earn a place at nationals. The competition required Melinda’s students to prepare a gourmet three-course meal in under an hour, making everything by hand and using only two portable burners.

At Anchorage’s Robert Service High School, the ProStart program is relatively new. ProStart is a nationwide program to teach students skills in the field of culinary arts, culminating in annual interscholastic cooking competitions. Melinda introduced ProStart to Service High just three years ago and quickly developed a team of champions.

Though she is an accomplished teacher with more than 25 years of experience, Melinda didn’t always aspire to teach culinary arts. When she entered college, Melinda was focused on earning a degree in chemistry.