Kansas and Louisiana won first place in the 2010 National ProStart Invitational, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today. The winning students on the top five teams in both the culinary and management competition categories took home $1.4 million in scholarships, medals, and prizes. Scholarships were provided by the NRAEF and the Coca-Cola Company, the premier sponsor of the event, along with leading colleges and universities.

The teams from Kansas and Louisiana competed against more than 300 fellow students at the three-day National ProStart Invitational competition, held April 30-May 2 in Overland Park, Kansas. The student teams demonstrated their culinary skills and knowledge of restaurant management in this fast-paced competition in front of more than 800 fellow students, educators, mentors, state restaurant association executives, and board members of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF.

“In a field of talented ProStart competitors, these teams from Kansas and Louisiana rose to the top based on the creativity, skill, and passion they displayed throughout this high-energy competition,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF. “We commend all the student competitors for their outstanding performance at this year’s National ProStart Invitational and feel confident our industry’s future is secure in the hands of this next generation of leaders.”

The National ProStart Invitational showcased the talents of top ProStart students as they competed in the culinary and management competitions. To qualify for the national competition, teams won first place in the state competitions held this year by state restaurant associations.

The team from Olathe District Schools in Kansas took home first place in the culinary competition. Oak Harbor High School of Washington earned second place honors, and Newport Harbor High School of California came in third place. Fourth place honors were awarded to Battle Mountain High School in Colorado, and Bend High School of Oregon took home fifth place. In the culinary competition, teams prepared a starter, entrée, and dessert within 60 minutes using only two butane burners, and were judged on categories including taste, knife skills, safety, sanitation, and teamwork.

In the equally exciting management competition, Rayne High School in Louisiana took top honors above second place Carver Center for the Arts & Technology of Maryland. The team from Bergen County Academies in New Jersey won third place. Fourth and fifth places were awarded to Lorain County JVS of Ohio, and East Career & Technical Academy in Nevada, respectively.

This year, the management competition featured a new format designed to better engage students and showcase their management skills. Participating teams developed a proposal for an original restaurant concept, delivered a presentation, and applied critical thinking skills to challenges that restaurant managers face in day-to-day operations.

The Coca-Cola Company is the premier sponsor of the National ProStart Invitational. Additional sponsors include American Express, Cambro, Chef Works, Cracker Barrel, Dexter-Russell, Inc., Golden Corral, The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes, McCormick for Chefs, Nation’s Restaurant News, Sodexo, Inc., Sysco, and Tyson.

Nationwide, 83,000 students in 47 states, territories, and districts are served by ProStart, a two-year curriculum supported by the NRAEF and state restaurant associations across the U.S. The career-building program blends classroom learning with mentored work experience to teach high school students the management and culinary skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

When students meet academic standards, complete a checklist of competencies, and work at least 400 hours in the industry, they are awarded the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement that signifies they are well qualified to enter the industry workforce. For more information on the ProStart program and National ProStart Invitational, visit prostart.restaurant.org.

For photos of the winning teams, the winning culinary menu or management restaurant concept, please contact Megan Meyer at mmeyer@restaurant.org.