The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced the winners of its 13th annual National ProStart Invitational, which took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 3–5. At the competition, ProStart champions from 46 states, territories and Department of Defense bases, competed for their share of a total of $3.75 million in scholarships by demonstrating their mastery of restaurant leadership skills in a fast-paced culinary and restaurant management competition.
The 2014 National ProStart Invitational Winners included:
First Place Culinary: Simon Sanchez High School – Yigo, Guam
First Place Management: Rockwall High School – Rockwall, Texas
Second Place Culinary: Olathe District Schools – Olathe, Kansas
Second Place Management: Carver Center for Arts and Technology – Towson, Maryland
Third Place Culinary: South Forsyth High School – Cumming, Georgia
Third Place Management: Mark Twain High School – Center, Missouri
Fourth Place Culinary: Polaris Career Center – Middleburg Heights, Ohio
Fourth Place Management: Polaris Career Center – Middleburg Heights, Ohio
Fifth Place Culinary: Bonney Lake High School – Bonney Lake, Washington
Fifth Place Management: Wando High School – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
All of the teams at the National ProStart Invitational had earned spots to compete by winning their state competitions. Scholarships were awarded to students from the top five winning teams in both the culinary and management competitions.
Each student on the first place teams took home a total of $6,000 in scholarship dollars; $5,000 each from Coca-Cola and $1,000 each from the Burger King McLamoresm Foundation. Second place teams received $4,000 in scholarships; $3,000 each from Coca-Cola and $1,000 each from the Burger King McLamoresm Foundation. Third place was granted $1,500 each from Golden Corral and $1,000 from the Burger King McLamoresm Foundation. Fourth place won $1,000 each from Georgia-Pacific and $1,000 each from the Burger King McLamoresm Foundation. Finally, the fifth place teams were awarded $500 each from Bloomin’ Brands and $1,000 from the Burger King McLamoresm Foundation.
In addition, renowned culinary schools are offering significant scholarships to the top teams including Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, The Chef’s Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, The Culinary Institute of America, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, The International Culinary Schools, Johnson & Wales University, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute, Mississippi University for Woman, and Sullivan University.
“It is an honor to watch these talented students compete with the passion that we saw at this year’s National ProStart Invitational,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “We know they will take the experience gained this weekend to propel their dreams and achieve rewarding careers in the restaurant industry.”
As part of 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 management competition, teams developed an original restaurant concept and applied critical thinking skills to address challenges restaurant managers face in day-to-day operations.
This year’s judges included industry experts such as chef Walter Scheib, former White House executive chef from 1994–2005; chef Stephen Kalil, PepsiCo corporate research chef; and chef Maxcel Hardy, former ProStart student, executive chef, and founder of One Chef Can 86 Hunger.
“The students benefitted greatly from the mentorship of the talented judges at this year’s National ProStart Invitational,” Gifford says. “Having the ability to interact and ask advice from our industry leaders is extremely valuable and offers important guidance to this next generation of restaurant professionals.”