Sweet Lessons: Ryba’s Fudge Shops Hosts Michigan’s Top Young Confectioners

Ryba’s Fudge Shops opened its doors to a group of talented young culinary enthusiasts—the top five cake decorating teams from the Michigan ProStart Invitational. As the sweet scent of sugar and chocolate filled the air, these creative students got a taste of what it takes to be a master in the art of candy making.

A Day of Learning and Laughter

Our day began with introductions to Ryba’s team of master confectioners, who have been perfecting the craft of fudge, caramel, and confections on Mackinac Island for decades. Under their expert guidance, the students were immersed in the meticulous process of crafting Ryba’s famous turtles, popcorn draped in creamy caramel, and our iconic fudge.

Each student was paired with a confectioner, providing a unique, hands-on experience in the nuances of candy making. They learned that at Ryba’s, it’s not just about following a recipe—it’s about the passion and precision that goes into each batch, ensuring that every piece of candy is as perfect as the last.

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Mastering the Craft

As the teams worked, they discovered the importance of small-batch production, which Ryba’s has championed since its inception. This method, they learned, is key to achieving the superior taste and consistent quality that Ryba’s is known for. Our master confectioners shared their secrets, from the perfect temperature for chocolate melting to the exact moment to pour the caramel over crisp, buttery popcorn.

The students didn’t just observe; they participated in every step, from mixing ingredients to the final touches that turn a good piece of candy into a great one. The process was a sweet symphony of timing, temperature, and technique.

Sweet Takeaways

By the end of the day, not only had the students created delectable treats, they had also gained a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in confectionery arts. As they packed up their creations to share with friends and family, it was clear that the lessons learned at Ryba’s Fudge Shops would stick with them, much like caramel clings to popcorn.

Celebrating the Art of Culinary Excellence

The statewide Michigan ProStart Competition is a cornerstone event, bringing together ProStart students and schools from across the state for two days of showcasing their talents in various aspects of the hospitality industry. This year, the competition categories included Culinary, Management, Nutrition, Pasta, Knife Cuts, ServSafe Quiz Bowl, Tabletop Design, and Cake Decorating.

Teams were observed, rated, and judged by leading industry professionals and higher education instructors. The first place winners of the Culinary and Management competitions earned a spot at the ProStart National Invitational in Baltimore, Maryland. Moreover, the 2024 competition offered more than $850,000 in scholarships to support students continuing their education in hospitality-related fields.

The winners of the cake decorating category were as follows:

  • First Place: Oakland Technical Southeast
  • Second Place: Gratiot Isabella TEC
  • Third Place: RCTC Ypsilanti – Team B
  • Fourth Place: Bay Arena ISD – Team B
  • Fifth Place: Livonia Technical Center

We at Ryba’s are proud to support the next generation of culinary talents and to provide a venue where learning is sweet and memories are sweeter. We extend a heartfelt thank you to the Michigan ProStart Invitational teams for bringing their enthusiasm and creativity to our kitchen.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating the craft of candy making! For more information about the Michigan ProStart Competition or to get involved, please contact Sarah Metcalf at smetcalf@mrla.org or call 517-377-3928.

Stay tuned for more sweet adventures from Ryba’s Fudge Shops!