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Texas High School Culinary Teams Shine Bright at the National ProStart Invitational

Texas ProStart champs put their culinary and management skills to the test in Baltimore, MD

(Austin, TX) April 29, 2024 –
Texas was well represented at the annual National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore, MD this past weekend. The two championship teams representing Texas in the culinary and management divisions were both from Ben Barber Innovation Academy of Mansfield, TX securing 4th place in the Culinary Division and placing in the top 10 in the Management Division among a roster of over 90 teams and 400+ competitors. 

Both Ben Barber Innovation Academy teams secured the right to represent Texas at Nationals when they won the Texas ProStart Invitational in March 2024. The National ProStart Invitational is hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and awards scholarships worth over $200,000 to high school students planning a career in the hospitality industry. 

The Texas and National ProStart Invitationals are the championship tournaments for the more than 252 Texas high schools that participate in ProStart. ProStart is a national industry-based culinary arts and hospitality management program offered by the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the Texas Restaurant Association.

Culinary teams were tasked with preparing a three-course meal in 60 minutes. Judges evaluated the students’ knife skills, teamwork, safety and sanitation, the taste of the food, and menu development, specifically regarding recipes and cost.

Management teams competed Shark Tank-style, developing and presenting an original restaurant concept, including a menu, staffing, and marketing plans, then relying on critical thinking skills to respond to judges’ questions about everyday challenges.

“The future of the hospitality industry in Texas is bright,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. “The National ProStart Invitational competitors are very deserving of recognition and appreciation. Recognizing their accomplishments serves to inspire others to strive for excellence and celebrate successes within their school and communities. We are so proud of these students whose hard work, brilliant ideas, and ferocious skill were inspiring, and we are grateful to the teachers and parents who have supported them at every step of the way.”

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Culinary and Management Division teams from Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, Texas, after winning the 2024 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 8-10 in Waco, Texas.


Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. Leveraging the latest skills, tools, and certifications, the TRF creates pathways of opportunity for one of the state’s largest and most diverse industries. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management program that reaches more than 27,000 students across 250 high schools in Texas. The TRF also supports restaurants in times of crisis; for example, in 2020, the TRF established the TX Restaurant Relief Fund to raise and distribute more than $3.5 million to support over 800 independent restaurants and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas ProStart is the leading culinary arts and hospitality management program that reaches more than 27,000 students across over 250 high schools across the state. Offered and supported by the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas ProStart is unique because it is industry-driven, delivering the national certifications, practical skills, and mentorship that students need to build a rewarding career in the foodservice industry.