Friday, May 1, 2009

Winners announced for eighth annual ProStart Invitational

The National Restaurant Association announced the winners of the eighth annual National ProStart Invitational, held April 24 to 26 in San Diego. Among the field of more than 300 student competitors from 39 states, territories and districts, the teams from Missouri and Oregon won top honors in the culinary and management competitions, respectively. The winning ProStart students took home medals, prizes and $1.1 million in scholarships, including scholarships from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and The Coca-Cola Co., the premier sponsor of the event.

More than 750 people were on hand to witness these future stars of the industry in action, including competitors, educators, mentors, state restaurant association representatives, judges, sponsors, industry representatives and friends and family. The National Restaurant Association's 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 their individual state restaurant associations.

The team from Herndon Career Center in Missouri (photo, below) took home first place in the culinary competition; team members are Thomas DeMarco, Mark Leary, Andrea Svaglic, Kailey Ferguson and Zac Ray. Olathe North High School of Kansas earned second place honors, and Provo High School of Utah came in third place. Fourth place honors were awarded to George Washington High School in Guam and Silverado High School of Nevada took home fifth place. In the culinary competition, teams prepared a starter, entrée and dessert within 60 minutes and were judged on categories including taste, presentation, safety, sanitation and teamwork.
(l to r) David Gilbert, COO, National Restaurant Association; Mike Miller, United States Air Force (team mentor); Ben Griswold, educator; the Herndon Career Center student team; Guy Fieri, Food Network host

In the equally exciting management competition, Bend High School in Oregon (photo, below) took top honors; team members are Casey Anderson, Jackie Baird, Katelynn Cockrum and Mimi Seeley. The team from Lorain County JVS of Ohio won second place, and Carson High School in Nevada won third place. Fourth and fifth places were awarded to Carver Center for Arts & Technology of Maryland and Cheyenne East High School in Wyoming, respectively. To conquer this event, teams demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by competing in a case study--where competitors were tested on their communication skills and ability to apply their industry knowledge to practical situations--and in a question-and-answer "game show" event.
(l to r) David Gilbert, COO, National Restaurant Association; Louise Markland, educator; the Bend High School student team; Sean Baldwin, Pilot Butte Drive Inn (team mentor); Guy Fieri, Food Network host

For more information on the ProStart program and National ProStart Invitational, please visit

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