Over the weekend, 12 high school culinary arts and 12 restaurant management team finalists gathered in San Antonio at St. Philip’s College for the final battle of the Texas ProStart Invitational. Emerging victorious were Texas teams from Rockwall High School (RHS) in Rockwall for the culinary portion of the competition and Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland for restaurant management.
The two winning teams advance to represent Texas in the National ProStart Invitational, April 27-29 in Providence, Rhode Island. There, they will compete against nearly 400 students from ProStart teams throughout the country.
Texas is home to the nation’s largest state ProStart competition. Now in its 9th year, the competition hosted more than 340 students from 75 high schools and 103 teams, via two rigorous regional competitions and one state final competition over the course of three months. In the Texas ProStart program there are currently 254 Texas high schools participating, with more than 25,000 students.
Teams participating in the culinary competition were required to demonstrate their creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in only 60 minutes. They were also judged on knife skills, safety and sanitation.
Rockwall High School is no stranger to ProStart Nationals – they first went in 2013, securing the championship title for restaurant management. That was followed by a trip to Nationals just last year, for the first time in the culinary category, under the leadership of Chef Cody Hays, snagging third place.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to represent the great state of Texas in the National ProStart Invitational in Rhode Island,” said Chef Hays. “The ProStart program provides students with an opportunity to get a taste of what our industry is all about, and year after year produces well-rounded young people ready to build their future in the hospitality industry. Our team is thankful beyond measure for the scholarships they received too! Rhode Island, here we come!”
For the management side, teams must develop and present a business proposal for a new restaurant concept that includes a defined concept, supporting menu and marketing plan. Teams prepare a comprehensive written proposal and they are evaluated on their critical thinking skills by reacting to potential management challenges.
For Glenda Dawson High School, the victory is especially sweet, as it marks the first time they have placed for Nationals after years of competing at State Finals.
“I am so proud of to have a group of students so dedicated to the process, and to their concept representing the state of Texas at Nationals,” said Sean Dunn, Culinary Arts Instructor at Glenda Dawson High School. “Each one of the young ladies on this team is overjoyed with the opportunity to learn from the judges and leaders in the industry they love and want their career to mirror in the near future.”
The National ProStart Invitational is produced by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF). Only students enrolled in high school culinary arts programs utilizing the ProStart program and curriculum are eligible to compete.
At Nationals, the top five teams from the culinary and management competitions are awarded generous educational scholarships to help further their careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. In 2017, more than $1 million in scholarships was awarded to students by the NRAEF and leading academic institutions.
2018 Texas ProStart State Finals Results
1st -- Rockwall High School
2nd – Azle High School
3rd – Ben Barber Innovation Academy
1st – Glenda Dawson High School
2nd – Ben Barber Innovation Academy
3rd – Porter High School
The 2018 Texas ProStart Invitational was sponsored by TRAEF partners - Texas Beef Council (Exclusive), Ecolab (Diamond), Ben E. Keith (Platinum), Auto-Chlor (Gold), BJ’s Restaurants, Coca-Cola, Texas Mutual, United Healthcare, Les Dames d’Escoffier (Silver), El Centro College, Nicholls State University and BMI (Bronze).