Dawson Bakunas

Dawson Bakunas, LLCC Culinary student.

Lincoln Land Community College student Dawson Bakunas of Divernon earned seventh place in the culinary arts competition at the national SkillsUSA Championships June 21-22, 2023, in Atlanta, Ga. Culinary arts was among 110 hands-on skill and leadership competitions held at the event.

In the culinary category, competitors were provided the same ingredients and supplies, and had to write and prepare menus in five hours. Judges looked for such factors as creativity, taste, plating, sanitation and fundamental skills. 

Bakunas also earned an American Culinary Federation certification at the event. 

“Being a part of this competition really brought my skills to another level,” he said. “It was a chance to show off what I have been learning and test skills against others in the country.”

Bakunas advanced to nationals after being named a first-place gold winner at the state competition April 25-27 in Peoria. He was one of three LLCC workforce students to qualify for the national competition. He is pursuing an associate in arts degree in culinary arts at LLCC’s Workforce Institute.

The SkillsUSA Championships were part of the 59th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, the nation’s largest showcase of skilled trades with approximately 15,000 students, teachers, education leaders and business representatives in attendance.