Students enrolled in the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) ProStart program tested themsleves in a sophisticated, real-world culinary and business management competition focused on the restaurant and foodservice sector. Held over the past three days in Anaheim, California, the National ProStart Invitational challenged 89 student teams from secondary schools across the nation to create a three-course meal, while corresponding teams presented business proposals for an original restaurant concept.

The Invitational’s culinary competition showcased each team’s creative abilities through the preparation of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert in 60 minutes. With no margin for error, students were measured on preparation, taste, skill, teamwork, safety, and sanitation. Management teams developed a business proposal for opening and operating a restaurant, and were asked to solve the types of daily challenges faced by restaurant managers. An expert panel of judges from industry and academia evaluated all teams.

The 2015 National ProStart Invitational team winners are:

·      First Place Culinary: Olathe North High School, Olathe, Kansas

·      First Place Management: Wando High School, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina


·      Second Place Culinary: South Forsyth High School, Cumming, Georgia

·      Second Place Management: San Diego High School, San Diego, California


·      Third Place Culinary: Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights, Ohio 

·      Third Place Management: Standley Lake High School, Westminster, Colorado


·      Fourth Place Culinary: Anderson Career and Technology Center, Williamston, South Carolina

·      Fourth Place Management: New Caney High School, New Caney, Texas


·      Fifth Place Culinary: Simon Sanchez High School, Territory of Guam

·      Fifth Place Management: Plymouth Canton Educational Park, Canton, Michigan


The NRAEF, Coca Cola, EcoLab, Georgia Pacific, Golden Corral, Popeyes Inc., and Burger King Mclamore Foundation offered cash scholarships for the 1st through 5th place culinary and management teams in amounts ranging from $500 – $5,000. In addition, leading culinary schools and post-secondary institutions offered coveted scholarships to the winning teams. All Invitational competitors — each champions of state competitions held in early 2015 — had the opportunity to meet with schools, recruiters, and restaurant and foodservice employers to discuss higher education and career paths in the industry during the event. 

One of the largest industry-supported career technical education programs in the nation, each year ProStart impacts more than 118,000 students in nearly 1,700 secondary schools across 48 states, the territory of Guam, and U.S. Department of Defense schools in Europe and the Pacific. ProStart unites industry and secondary school classrooms to train students with the skills that help them achieve long-term and rewarding careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Research indicates that students and educators agree that ProStart is effective in teaching culinary skills as well as restaurant management theory and practice, including critical employability skills such as teamwork, communication, and professional behavior. 70 percent of students enrolled in ProStart programs indicate they plan to pursue post-secondary education.

“These aspiring students who compete in this Invitational represent today’s rising stars and tomorrow’s future leaders of the restaurant and foodservice industry. The Invitational offers them the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in the classroom through the NRAEF’s ProStart curriculum, and a platform to be noticed by renowned schools, recruiters, and executives in the industry,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the NRAEF.

“This annual competition continues to reinforce the critical tie between the industry and classroom that makes the NRAEF’s ProStart program a model for career technical education in the U.S.,” says Mike Hickey, chairman, NRAEF, and executive vice president and president, global institutional, Ecolab Inc.