State-level Competitions Across the Nation Put Foodservice Skills Training to the Test as Students Compete for Spots at National ProStart Invitational
Thousands of ProStart students from Alaska to Florida to Maine are sharpening their knives, presentation skills and business plans at state competitions with an eye on competing at the nation’s premier high school championship event focused on restaurant management and culinary arts – the National ProStart Invitational.
Student teams are currently going head-to-head in 44 state ProStart competitions. ProStart is the nation’s premier culinary arts and restaurant management program, utilized in more than 2,000 high schools in 48 states, Guam and on U.S. military bases and reaching nearly 100,000 secondary students annually. Administered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), ProStart prepares young people to pursue additional studies or enter a rewarding career in the foodservice sector.
“ProStart competitions are a higher-stakes student version of Top Chef, with both a culinary and a business management component. The prizes open doors to college scholarships and visibility with recruiters from the nation’s top restaurant and hospitality college programs,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “Few programs are as successful as ProStart in giving high school students the skill, poise and experience necessary to access long term, rewarding careers in the restaurant industry.”
The culinary competition highlights the creative abilities of each team as they prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners with no access to running water or electricity. Teams are evaluated on taste, teamwork, safety and sanitation, among other skills. Management teams develop a business proposal for an original restaurant concept and present it to a panel of industry judges. Then, they’ll be further tested to solve the types of challenges restaurant managers face on a daily basis.
At the national event in Minneapolis, Minn. May 3-5, more than 350 elite ProStart students from 44 states and territories will contend for a share scholarships from leading culinary programs that this year could total $1 million. Nearly 1,000 attendees, including industry and academic leaders, NRAEF board members, state restaurant association representatives, ProStart educators, friends and family members will be there cheering on students from across the U.S.
Many post-secondary schools in the nation recognize ProStart’s Certificate of Achievement, which is awarded to students who complete both levels of the program and at least 400 hours of work experience, and reward them with scholarships and advanced placement.
For a complete list of state competitions, which occur through April 5, visit http://www.nraef.org/Public/Meet-ProStart/2014StateCompetitionsbyDate.
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF exists to enhance the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities. The NRAEF works to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees, making it one of the nation’s largest employers. For more information on the NRAEF, visit NRAEF.org.