Industry News | May 3, 2011

ProStart Crowns Industry's Next Stars

Newport Harbor High School in Newport, California, did what no other high school has done in the 10-year history of The National Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation National ProStart Invitational. The school swept the culinary arts and restaurant management portions of the annual competition, winning first place in both competition segments.

Some 4,000 high school students across the country competed during the past year for the opportunity to be among the 315 high school students from 40 states and territories represented at the 10th Annual National ProStart Invitational in Overland Park, Kansas, this past weekend.

“We had great diversity this year in our winning teams from across the country… diversity in all possible ways, and the passion they exhibited, I don’t know if it could get any higher than it was this year,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, who attended the competition.

Scholarship funds of $1.4 million were awarded to student winners from five culinary arts and five restaurant management teams in the country’s premier high school competition. The management teams were tasked with developing an original restaurant concept and communicating their concepts with critical thinking skills to a group of judges, while the culinary teams competed in the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes.

Among the management teams was a group of deaf students, for the first time, from Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville. “They did a wonderful job, and they are going to stick with it and are going to make that concept a reality, which is wonderful,” Sweeney said.

Other teams competed amidst adversity. Immediately before the competition, a tornado severely damaged North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville, Arkansas, causing the students on both the culinary and management teams to practice and perfect their preparations from someone’s home.

The day they were to leave for the competition, two students from the four-member Carver Middle High School culinary team in Carver, Massachusetts, had to suddenly drop out, leaving the two remaining students to regroup and compete at half strength. Other schools heard about their predicament and rallied to cheer them on.

“As is true with everybody that’s in this industry, there’s almost nothing that keeps people from trying to achieve their goals, and it’s very inspiring,” Sweeney said.

The 11th and 12th annual National ProStart Invitational will be held in Baltimore in 2012 and 2013.

Winners of the culinary competition were:

1st place, Newport Harbor High School, Newport, California

2nd place, Olathe District Schools, Olathe, Kansas

3rd place, South Forsyth High School, Cumming, Georgia

4th place, Wando High School, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

5th place, Puyallup High School, Puyallup, Washington

Winners of the management portion of the competition were:

1st place, Newport Harbor High School, Newport, California

2nd place, Cloudcroft High School, Cloudcroft, New Mexico

3rd place, Watauga High School, Boone, North Carolina

4th place, Plymouth-Canton Educational Park, Plymouth, Michigan

5th place, Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida

 

By Jody Shee