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 Rockwall High School (RHS) in Rockwall for the culinary portion of the competition and Porter High School (PHS) in Porter for restaurant management.
These two winning teams will advance to represent Texas in the National ProStart Invitational April 28-30 in Charleston, South Carolina, where they will compete against 40 other high school ProStart teams from throughout the country.
Texas is home to the nation’s largest state ProStart competition. Now in its 8th year, more than 340 students from 75 high schools and 103 teams competed, via two rigorous regional competitions and one state final competition over the course of three months.
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 not only went to Nationals in 2013, they took the championship title for restaurant management. This April marks the first time they will compete nationally in the culinary division however, and Chef Cody Hays, Culinary Arts Instructor for RHS, is thrilled.
“Rockwall is so excited to represent our great state of Texas at the National ProStart Invitational in April! I could not be more proud this team and to top it off, it’s my very first all-girls team,” he says. “They are truly a class-act. Their teamwork is impeccable, their food is delicious, their drive is off the charts, and most of all, their hearts are full. We are thankful for the Texas ProStart program sponsored by the Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation. The scholarships available through this program are life-changing for these kids and their families.”
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.
Porter High School’s success is long-awaited. They have competed every year since the beginning of the program, often placing second, but this is their first time to nationals.
“Competing in Texas Restaurant Association's Prostart Competition is a great opportunity for our students to learn real-world industry skills and network with industry professionals,” says Vandi Nall, Culinary Arts Instructor for PHS. “As instructors, we have invested years of hard work, time, and most of all, our hearts. To have this group of girls represent Porter High School Culinary Arts at the management level is a perfect combination of their personalities, intelligence, drive, integrity combined with all the efforts we have put in as instructors. It is amazing to see them reach the potential that we knew they had inside them.”
Thousands of dollars in scholarships were awarded to members of the top three culinary and management teams, from a numberof schools including The Art Institutes, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute LeNotre, The Culinary Institute of America, Culinary Institute of Virginia, Johnson & Wales University and the New England Culinary Institute.
The Texas ProStart Invitational was produced by the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Only students enrolled in high school culinary arts programs utilizing the Texas ProStart program and curriculum were eligible to compete. There are 240 Texas high schools now participating in the program with 25,000 students.
State Competition Results
1st - Rockwall High School
1st - Porter High School
For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.txrestaurant.org/education-foundation.