Two all-female high school Texas ProStart teams traveled to Charleston, South Carolina over the weekend to represent the Lone Star State in the National ProStart Invitational competition, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Rockwall High School (from Rockwall, Texas) tackled the culinary challenge, emerging victorious with a 3rd place title overall and Porter High School (from Porter, Texas) competed in the restaurant management category, taking 6th.
The road to nationals was a laborious one, with both teams competing and winning regional and state competitions, hosted by the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation.
Rockwall High School (RHS) is no stranger to nationals, having competed previously in the restaurant management category, winning top honors, but never in the culinary division. For the competition, culinary teams had to demonstrate knife skills, develop and price a three-course menu, and prepare it in 60 minutes. Judges evaluate the teams on creativity, plate presentation, taste, teamwork, professionalism, and safety and sanitation.
Chef Cody Hayes, chef instructor at RHS was thrilled with the victory, “Our Rockwall ISD Culinary Arts ProStart team had a wonderful time representing TEXAS at the National ProStart Invitational. The road to the National ProStart Invitational has been a long journey, but these five girls set their goals high and pulled through with grace and unwavering passion. To be able to watch them learn, grow, and overcome has been a true pleasure for me to see; their transformation over the past 7 months is mind-blowing. I am proud to have these young aspiring chefs in our industry!”
In the management competition, teams developed an original restaurant concept to present to industry judges and applied critical thinking skills to address challenges restaurant managers face in day-to-day operations. Chef Vandi Nall, culinary arts instructor for Porter High School feels that the ProStart competition is a great way for students to learn real-world industry skills and network with industry professionals. “The chance to represent Texas at the national level is a dream come true. As instructors, we have put in years of hard work, time, and most of all, our hearts.”
Richie Jackson, CEO of Texas Restaurant Association says, “We couldn’t be more proud of Rockwall and Porter High Schools and wish the students continued success on their journey. The lessons they learn in the Texas ProStart program will benefit them for a lifetime.”
The National ProStart Invitational activities began on April 28 with a Business and Education Expo and the weekend officially kicked off Friday evening at an opening ceremony. Competitions continued through the weekend, concluding with an award dinner April 30th, announcing and honoring the winners. Outside of the competition, competitors were able to network with restaurant and hospitality industry leaders and learn more about post-secondary education opportunities.
Aside from taking home top honors and bragging rights, the top five teams from the culinary and management competitions earned coveted scholarships to continue their restaurant or foodservice education. For more information on Texas ProStart or the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, visit here. (Rockwall photos via Cody Hayes, Chef Instructor, RHS. Porter High School photo via TRA).