From Ohio to Russia - JVS Alumnus Prepares for WorldSkills Competition

Her passion and love for food started at a very young age and now it is taking her places she never dreamed possible. Julia Spondike, Lorain County JVS Culinary Arts 2017 alum, will be heading to Kazan, Russia in August representing the United States at the WorldSkills Competition in cooking.

The road to Russia is first taking Spondike to Chongqing, China where she will participate in their national skills competition. According to Spondike, the competition is a two-day event with the potential for her to medal; that which she said would be a high honor before heading next to Russia.

“This will be my first international experience,” shared Spondike. “This will be a good stepping stone before I go to Russia. I will also get the opportunity to meet some of the people I might be competing against at WorldSkills as well.”

Friends shared with Spondike that this particular part of China is known for their spicy food and she is really excited to try the food and experience the culture for the nine days that she will be visiting.

Spondike has been training for nearly a year for the WorldSkills competition, becoming more comfortable with the things she already knows how to do, but having the repetition, she says, will help her perfect those skills. Spondike is the only culinary representative from the United States.

The road to Kazan started with her choice to attend the JVS and their culinary arts program. “The JVS culinary program and the whole team in the kitchen; Chef Timothy Michitsch and Chef Alyssa Rose, helped me further my education in cooking. I am a passionate learner and I wanted to get hands-on learning in the kitchen and be able to work and make delicious food, which I was able to do through their guidance and help,” said Spondike.

In the summer of 2017, as part of the JVS culinary program, Spondike competed at the SkillsUSA National competition. She won first place and was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After this accomplishment, she was informed about the WorldSkills opportunity and was interested in learning more.

“It took me nearly four months to get through the application process,” Spondike said. “It included questionnaires about my personality, my cooking style, where I see food going in the next five to ten years, and what I wanted out of my future career.”

Challenging cooking projects, as well as test menu projects, also needed to be completed as part of the application process. “It included an appetizer, a soup, an entrée and dessert; all that we had to complete within one week,” shared Spondike. “It was very stressful and I was questioning whether I could do it or not, but I did!”

After the application process, there was a run off competition between Spondike and one other person. This competition included two days, eight hours each day, and at the conclusion, she was selected to represent the United States for WorldSkills.

Spondike shared that she is eager and ready to take on this next challenge. “It will be a four-day competition, four hours each day, and I will be preparing and cooking two to three things each day. This time I will be cooking in bulk, so it will be one recipe, but I will be making it for 18 or so people. That will be exciting.”

Looking back at where she started, and looking forward to where she is heading, the sky is the limit for Julia and she is thankful to the JVS for helping her lay the foundation in her career path. “They helped me get out there, meet new people and showed me how to stay connected with people that are still great influencers. I couldn’t ask for a better high school experience. It was the best!”

WorldSkills International is a global, member-driven organization that works through collaborative efforts to raise the awareness of skilled professions. Currently, there are 77 member countries and regions. WorldSkills was founded in 1950.