Thursday, December 4, 2008

Real-world skills put to test during
Illinois ProStart competition

On Saturday, November 15, over 200 high school students from across Illinois gathered at Kendall College in Chicago to participate in the 8th annual Illinois ProStart Student Invitational, a series of culinary and management competitions in which students display their gastronomic abilities and knowledge. During the program, which also included a college fair and cooking demonstration, more than $200,000 in scholarships were awarded to students.

Hosted by the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) and sponsored by Sysco Foodservice-Chicago, this year's top competition winners were West Aurora High School in the culinary competition and Lake County High School Technology Campus in the management competition. Lake County High School Technology Campus also placed second in the culinary competition. Both teams will now go on to compete in the National ProStart Student Invitational competition, which is scheduled to take place April 24–26, 2009, in San Diego, Calif.
Technology Center of DuPage was the third place winner in both the culinary competition and the management competition. The second place winner of the management competition was Wilco Area Career Center. Each first place team member was awarded over $16,000 in scholarships to culinary colleges including: Clemens College, Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Culinary Institute of America, Illinois Institute of Art, Johnson & Wales University, Kendall College and Washburne Culinary Institute.

During the culinary competition, students were judged on creativity of presentation, knife skills, cleanup and sanitation. The management competition challenged teams of students to answer questions taken from the ProStart curriculum during the knowledge bowl. The final phase of the event, the case study, required students to demonstrate their ability to analyze management situations involving business dilemmas, using solutions from both the front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house perspectives.

"These teams are all winners in our book because everyone knows that in this industry your work ethic is just as important as the end result," said Roxanne Charles, IRAEF executive director. "West Aurora High School and Lake County High School Technology Campus should be proud of their winning teams. What they've accomplished at the Invitational will prepare them for success in today's hospitality industry."