The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is preparing to host the 13th annual National ProStart Invitational at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 3–5. More than 300 top ProStart students from 46 states, territories, and Department of Defense bases will demonstrate their mastery of restaurant leadership skills—culinary and management—in a fast-paced competition, aiming for a share of $3.75 million in scholarships.

A portion of the scholarships awarded will be supported by the Burger King McLamore Foundation, which will provide 50 student scholarships, one to each member from the top 10 winning teams. The winners will join a long list of esteemed students who share the 2014 Burger King Scholars title. Scholarships are also offered by major industry employers and culinary schools including Coca-Cola, Golden Corral, Bloomin’ Brands, Georgia Pacific, The Culinary Institute of America, Le Cordon Bleu, Johnson & Wales, and more.

 “The restaurant industry provides opportunities for a wide range of rewarding careers and, through ProStart, is investing in students to help them achieve their dreams of working in our industry. The National ProStart Invitational showcases the critical tie between industry and classroom that makes ProStart a model for workforce-focused education,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “At the NRAEF, building a pipeline of industry talent is our key imperative, and with help from our generous sponsors and notable judges at the invitational, we are creating life-changing experiences that train students both in the classroom and on the job.”

The culinary competition highlights the creative abilities of each team as they prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners with no access to running water or electricity. Esteemed judges evaluate the teams 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. Then, they’ll be further tested to solve the types of challenges restaurant managers face on a daily basis.

“We are thrilled to be offering our support to the NRAEF which shares our mission of advancing education,” says Jill Granat, president of the Burger King McLamore Foundation Foundation. “The National ProStart Invitational showcases the next generation of our restaurant industry leaders. We are proud to be a part of this great educational initiative.”

This year’s judges include 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, among many other prominent industry leaders.

Nearly 1,000 attendees, including industry and academic leaders, NRAEF board members, state restaurant association representatives, ProStart educators, friends, and family members will be in Minneapolis cheering on the student competitors.

ProStart is the nation’s premier culinary arts and restaurant management program, utilized in more than 1,700 high schools in 48 states, Guam, and on U.S. military bases and reaching nearly 100,000 secondary students annually. Administered by the NRAEF, ProStart prepares young people to pursue additional studies or enter a rewarding career in the foodservice sector. Many post-secondary schools in the nation recognize ProStart’s Certificate of Achievement, which is awarded to students who complete both levels of the program and at least 400 hours of work experience, and reward them with scholarships and credits.