WASHINGTON (May 5) – High school teams from Plymouth Canton Educational Park in Canton, Michigan, and Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut, battled 400 fellow competitors to take home national championship titles, with the top ten teams receiving nearly $200,000 in scholarships at this week’s 2023 National ProStart Invitational. The event featured a showstopping display of culinary talent and restaurant business acumen by over 90 of the country’s best and brightest high school teams from 46 states. All of the students competing in the 2023 National ProStart Invitational earned their place by winning their state-level ProStart Invitational competitions.
The National ProStart Invitational is a high-stakes competition between some of the best culinary and restaurant management students in the country. Students on the culinary teams had 60 minutes to prepare a three course, fine dining menu, using only two butane burners and no running water. The management teams persuaded a panel of judges that their innovative restaurant business pitches had the chops to succeed in the real world.
Plymouth Canton Educational Park in Canton, Michigan, went head-to-head against 45 fellow teams, earning the culinary title with a menu of soy-marinated tuna as a starter, strip steak and braised short rib with potato dauphinoise and puree. They completed their menu with a dessert of coconut Bavarian with orange-almond cake.
Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut, defended their Nafas Kitchen concept in front of a panel of industry judges, capturing the restaurant management competition that included 45 other teams. The concept featured a casual West Asian restaurant envisioned as a place for advocacy, change, and community with dishes from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Levant region.
“This year’s National ProStart Invitational winners delivered exciting results when they brought creativity, passion, and initiative to the table,” said Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “The individuality of the students shines through in each culinary submission. And throughout the management competitions, we saw students with strong business acumen design thriving restaurant organizations. These competitors are the best of the best, and I know they will inspire other students to take a chance, create something new, and be part of this amazing restaurant community.”
“The passion and talent displayed by this week’s National ProStart Invitational competitors was truly awe-inspiring, giving us a front row seat to the next generation that will shape our industry,” said NRAEF President Rob Gifford. “Thanks to the daily work of our educators, ProStart is equipping these students with crucial career-building skills that will enhance their lives in the industry, or wherever their futures take them.”
ProStart – the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s nationwide career and technical education program – has equipped 1 million high school students to-date with career-ready culinary and restaurant management skills. Today, the program reaches nearly 165,000 students at almost 1,850 schools, who emerge ready to build a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Following are the top five teams in the culinary and restaurant management competitions.
During the award ceremony, held May 4 in Washington, D.C., NPSI also recognized Chef Patrick Phelan from St. Charles Parish Public Schools’ Satellite Center in Luling, Louisiana, as the program’s 2023 James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year. With support from Golden Corral, the award is part of the annual Educator of Excellence award program, which recognizes the country’s top ProStart educators who demonstrate classroom excellence and an unparalleled commitment to helping their students make the most of the program’s opportunities.
The 2023 National ProStart Invitational was sponsored in part by The Coca-Cola Company, DIRECTV FOR BUSINESS National Accounts, Ecolab, Golden Corral, Kellogg’s, and Nestlé Professional.
ProStart®, a nationwide, two-year high school career and technical education program uniting the classroom and restaurant industry, reaches nearly 165,000 students at almost 1,850 high schools throughout all states, the District of Columbia and Guam. ProStart gives students a platform to discover and develop new interests and talents, while teaching employability skills like teamwork, professional behavior, time management and communication.
About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF)
As the supporting philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF’s charitable mission includes enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development, and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower, and Advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. NRAEF programs include: ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready/HOPES – Partnering with community based organizations to provide people with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and the Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) – accredited apprenticeship programs designed to build the careers of service professionals. For more information on the NRAEF, visit ChooseRestaurants.org. Click here for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s 2022 Annual Impact Report.