Mt. Pleasant Area's Julia Harhai exhibits a 'passion for pastry'
Local culinary student Julia Harhai earned a gold medal in baking and pastry preparation during the recently held Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state competition.
It was the second consecutive year that Harhai won gold at the competition which took place March 13-15 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion.
Harhai — a junior at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School who attends classes in the culinary arts department at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in New Stanton — has a bright future ahead of her in the culinary arts profession, according to Christie Parks, the center's culinary arts instructor.
“Pastry is Julia's passion and it shows,” said Christie Parks, the center's culinary arts instructor.
Harhai credited her success during the competition to “the ability to think fast on your feet at all times” under strict time constraints.
Harhai previously earned a gold medal in the Skills USA baking and pastry district competition held in January at the Connellsville Area Career & Technical Center.
She made dinner rolls, a pie, sugar and chocolate chip cookies, bread and she decorated a cake during the competition.
Most recently, Harhai made dinner rolls, a pie, chocolate chip muffins, cream puffs, a coffeecake, eclairs and decorated a two-layer cake at the Skills USA baking and pastry state competition held April 3-5 in Hershey.
Parks also pointed out that Harhai thrives when she is producing an array of baked goods and desserts, such as pies, turnovers, pinwheels, cream puffs, napoleons, cinnamon rolls, all occasion cakes, tier cakes, creme brulee and cheesecakes.
In addition to her routine culinary assignments, Harhai practiced a variety of formulas to prepare for the baking competitions, Parks said.
“I have no doubt she will succeed in her future in the wonderful world of pastry arts, or wherever life takes her due to her hard work ethic, talent and passion,” Parks said.
Harhai said she is looking forward to another year of baking and pastry competitions as a senior.
She said she plans to attend a four-year college to study culinary arts, as well as baking and pastry preparation.
As a result of winning the gold medal during the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state competition, the following scholarships will be available to Harhai following her high school graduation in 2014:
• $2,000 — Sullivan University
• $1,500 — Indiana University of Pennsylvania
• $1,000 — Culinary Institute of America
• $1,000 — Art Institute of Pittsburgh
• $750 — Johnson and Wales University.
Harhai's ability to showcase her talent, win the scholarships and earn a gold medal are all “impressive” feats, said Troy Collier, the center's principal.
“(Julia) represented herself, her family, (Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School) and CWCTC extremely well,” Collier said.
She is the daughter of Dave and Rinny Harhai of Mt. Pleasant.
Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.