California Schools Take Home Second and Fifth Place Honors at the Sixth Annual National ProStart® Student Invitational

Southern California Students Earn Scholarships to Continue Education

Sacramento, Calif. – Then California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (CRAEF) today announced that students from Newport Harbor High School placed second in the culinary competition and students from La Quinta High School placed fifth in the management competition at the Sixth Annual National ProStart® Student Invitational, held April 20-22, 2007 at the Westin in Charlotte, NC.

The competition brought together the top ProStart students from 34 states, territories and districts to battle for medals, prizes and scholarships in both a culinary and a management competition. As a result of their success, the Newport Harbor students were awarded a $3500 scholarship from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and the Coca-Cola Company, the competition’s Premier Sponsor. They also won $700 from the NRAEF and the Coca-Cola Company to put toward its ProStart program. Students from the La Quinta High School team were awarded a $500 scholarship and $400 to put toward its ProStart program.

“These talented students represented not only their school, but the entire state of California at the National ProStart Student Invitational,” said Stella Premo, Executive Director for CRAEF. “These students showed tremendous skill and expertise under pressure and should be proud of this great accomplishment. The ProStart curriculum, along with the support of family, teachers and mentors, is helping produce the next generation of restaurant and foodservice professionals.” 

The Newport Harbor High School culinary team members included Alex Gonzales, Steve Smeets, Cody McDonald and Tyler Wolk. The team was taught by Janet Dukes and mentored by Emiliano Nino of First American Corporation. To place in the culinary competition, the team prepared a starter, entrée and dessert within 60 minutes and were judged on categories including taste, presentation, safety, sanitation and teamwork. Their winning menu consisted of a poached rock shrimp salad with avocado, radish and yuzu vinaigrette, pan seared Australian lamb with eggplant, polenta, goat cheese and herb roasted vegetables and croquembouche en cercle for dessert.

The La Quinta High School management team included Brittany de Coster, Samantha Gaag and Ruby Rios. The team was taught by Sheri Tucker and mentored by Elaine Tadros, a retired ProStart instructor. To conquer this event, teams demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by competing in a case study – where competitors were tested on their communication skills and ability to apply their knowledge of the industry to practical situations – and in a question-and-answer “game show”-style event.  

In addition to the NRAEF/Coca-Cola scholarship, students were offered scholarships from The Art Institutes, Conrad N. Hilton College, Culinary Arts Academy, The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America, New England Culinary Institute, Orlando Culinary Academy, Paul Smith’s College and Professional Culinary Institute.

The team’s success at the National ProStart Student Invitational followed their triumph at the state competition, which they had to win to qualify for the national competition. 

The ProStart program, administered by the NRAEF and state restaurant associations, is a two-year curriculum designed to teach high school students the management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Students also have the opportunity to participate in paid internships under industry mentors. When students meet academic standards, complete a checklist of competencies, and participate in at least 400 hours of a mentored work experience, they are awarded the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement that signifies they are well qualified to enter the industry workforce.