California High School Students to Compete for Major Scholarships at Statewide Culinary Competition

California High School Students to Compete for Major Scholarships at Statewide Culinary Competition
Team that competed in 2019 CA ProStart Cup

Teenagers Pitch Next Big Ideas for Restaurants in Shark Tank Setting

California High School Students to Compete for Major Scholarships at Statewide Culinary CompetitionCalifornia high school students are busy gearing up to compete in the 2020 CA ProStart Cup, a two-day high-stakes culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship competition that awards more than $2.3 million in available scholarships. These hungry and talented teenagers have been preparing for months to showcase and pitch their ideas including restaurant concepts, new technologies and innovative dishes, to an esteemed panel of experts in a Shark Tank-like setting. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with more than a dozen colleges and universities along with some of the most well-known restaurant and food brands in the country.

Presented by BJ’s Restaurants and Wienerschnitzel, the 2020 CA ProStart Cup will be held on March 20-21 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona. Each year, this eagerly anticipated event is hosted by the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF), a non-profit that invests in and empowers students of the culinary arts and California’s restaurant workforce. The CA ProStart Cup recognizes not only those with the best culinary skills, but the most accomplished students in business management along with a category exclusive to the California ProStart competition, innovation.

  • Culinary Cup: Participants have just one hour to prepare a starter, entrée, and dessert using only two butane burners. Competitors must calculate the cost of their recipes and are judged on knife skills, teamwork, safety, sanitation and communication.
  • Management Cup: Participants must prepare a business proposal for a new restaurant concept, including marketing tactics, a menu, restaurant design, and organizational structure.
  • Innovation Cup: In a first-of-its-kind competition, teams of high school students will develop and pitch a concept for a robot, product, app or software to improve the restaurant industry.

More than 250 students of the top high schools offering CRAF’s culinary program will compete and be judged by 65 industry representatives from brands like BJ’s Restaurants, Wienerschnitzel, Coca Cola, Urban Plates, Bojangles’ and Sysco. Taco Bell corporate will send winners to represent California at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C. May 8-10, 2020.

“Students in our ProStart programs work incredibly hard on their competitive submissions, and it is so exciting to watch as this is a culmination of everything they’ve learned in the course,” said CRAF Executive Director Alycia Harshfield. “We developed this thrilling competition as a platform for young, aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs to exhibit their talent and creativity, and year after year we are amazed at what they come up with!”

For more information about CRAF and the ProStart program, visit

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students, which develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. In California, the ProStart program is operated by CRAF in 140 public high schools, reaching 13,500 students from Redding to San Diego. CRAF enriches these culinary arts classrooms through field trips, culinary and management competitions, and industry networking opportunities that work together to make school engaging, relevant and fun. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-life experience opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. For more information about the CA ProStart Cup, visit

California is home to more than 90,000 eating and drinking places that ring up more than $72 billion in sales and employ more than 1.6 million workers, making restaurants an indisputable driving force in the state’s economy. The California Restaurant Association Foundation is a non-profit that empowers and invests in California’s restaurant workforce. Founded in 1981, CRAF supports the restaurant community through emergency assistance grants for restaurant workers facing a hardship, job and life skills training for 13,500 high school students each year, and scholarships. For more information visit