High school students who have won their state ProStart competitions are headed to Anaheim, California, for the 14th annual National ProStart Invitational, April 18–20 at the Disneyland Hotel.

ProStart is one of the largest industry-supported career technical education programs in the nation, offering students the knowledge and skills necessary to consider and forge rich and varied careers in the restaurant and foodservice sector.

The National ProStart Invitational culinary competition requires student teams to prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners and without 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. The students are then asked to solve the types of challenges restaurant managers face on a daily basis.

“The National ProStart Invitational brings the best and brightest—really the future leaders of our nation’s restaurant and foodservice industry—to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom, and represent their state’s ProStart program on the national level,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations, and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). “This annual event showcases the critical tie between the industry and classroom that makes the ProStart program a model for career technical education.”

Coca Cola, EcoLab, Georgia Pacific, Golden Corral, Popeyes Inc., and the BURGER KING McLAMORESM Foundation offer cash scholarships for the 1st to 5th place culinary, and management teams in amounts ranging from $500–$5,000. In addition, several leading culinary schools and post-secondary institutions offer full scholarships to the winning teams. All competitors have the opportunity to meet with schools, recruiters, and major restaurant and foodservice employers to discuss higher education and career paths in the industry during the event.

Every year, ProStart impacts more than 118,000 students across 48 states, the Territory of Guam and at Department of Defense schools in Europe and the Pacific by connecting the industry and the classroom to train students with the skills that help them achieve exciting, rewarding, and long-term careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. ProStart students and educators agree that ProStart is effective in teaching culinary technique and restaurant management, as well as critical employability skills including teamwork, communication, and professional behavior. Seventy percent of ProStart students plan to pursue postsecondary education.

Employee Management, News, National Restaurant Association, NRAEF