I took the time to ask and was lucky enough to get on the education committee. This is where I was exposed to Texas ProStart. I was a timer at the Dallas Regional ProStart Culinary competition. From that 1st competition I was hooked!
ProStart is a program developed by the National Restaurant Association. It takes high school kids that participate in a culinary art program at their local high schools and gives them the tools and guidance they need to turn them in the future stars of our industries in the ProStart Culinary Competition. There are two segments of the competition: Management and Culinary arts. The management teams are required to develop a full restaurant concept. This includes everything from budget and marketing to the menu. The culinary teams are judged on their culinary skills, sanitation, and food production. Currently there are 95,000 students representing 1,900 high schools across 48 states involved in ProStart.
Kevin Fenderson with Brinker International was chairman of the education committee my first year of ProStart. He requested and assigned me the task of mentoring 1 high school. I picked my daughter’s school, Rockwall High School. By this point, ProStart regionals were over, but I reached out to the instructor Chef Cody Hayes. He graciously allowed me to be a part of the team.
Last year was the first year Rockwall actually competed. Texas has 2 regional competitions. Six teams from each region compete at the state level. Out of 31 teams, Rockwall High School’s culinary team placed 5th and the management team placed 1st. They went to state! At state, the culinary team placed 3rd and the management team placed 1st. The management team went on to represent the state of Texas at the National competition. Two of the students are currently attending advanced culinary programs with scholarships they won from ProStart.
This program brings together everyone from this industry including food suppliers, manufacturers, restaurateurs, dealers, manufacturer reps, consultants, and even service companies like RSI.
ProStart Changes Lives
ProStart changes lives. I know it has changed mine. I love ‘my’ Chef and our kids. They have become my second family. Last year I was honored to receive the ‘Mentor of the year’ award by the G.D.R.A. and T.R.A. This year, I am chairman of the Education committee with Estella Martinez. I am asked to speak with new committee members and mentor them on being mentors.
Rockwall High is competing in Katy, Texas on February 7 and 8 and we practice every day after school and on weekends to prepare. These kids and teachers are very dedicated. They are the future leaders of our industry. They are our future restaurant owners, reps, e suppliers and even our customers.
Get Involved with the ProStart Culinary Competition:
Find your local restaurant association. Please take the time to visit the N.R.A. website at www.restaurant.org and get involved.
Money is great, but these kids and teachers need your time and expertise!