Nineteen Kansas high schools competed in the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association’s 16th annual ProStart competition on March 8.
The competition includes events such as a culinary competition, a management competition and an edible centerpiece competition. Each participating team is evaluated by judges from industry and post-secondary colleges. Students and teams placing first through third will receive college scholarships and teams placing first in the Culinary and Management competitions advance to a national competition.
This year a total of 19 schools participated in the event, with 18 culinary teams, 10 management teams and eight edible centerpiece competitors.
2017 ProStart Results
In the Culinary Competition, Olathe Public Schools, Broadmoor Technical Center, Maize High School and Eisenhower High School (Team Blue) placed first through fourth respectively.
The top four places in the Management Competition were awarded to Wichita Heights High School, Maize High School, Olathe High School and Garden City High School.
Students from Olathe High School claimed the top three spots in the Edible Centerpiece Competition with Grace in first place, Dorian in second and Kenedy in third. Fourth place was awarded to Brooke of Eudora High School.
Based on these results, Olathe’s Culinary team and Wichita Heights’s Management team will each advance to the National ProStart Invitational.
How It Works
ProStart students are evaluated on a variety of different criteria.
Teams competing in the Culinary Competition are asked to prepare a creative, three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners as a heat source. Students are held to industry standards during evaluation, during which elements such as proper food receiving practices, knife skills, safety and sanitation, organization and team work, product taste and presentation, and food costing are taken into account. Students are given 20 minutes to set their stations prior to cooking time.
During the Management Competition, participating teams are tested on their communication skills and their ability to apply their knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry by developing a business proposal for a new restaurant concept. Students are then evaluated on their overall concept, menu development, marketing strategies, operations (including blueprints, layout and staffing), and food costing. Judges also ask each team critical thinking questions to determine if they are familiar with how to properly handle situations using industry standards. During the Management Competition, students have 45 minutes to present their concept to the judges.
The Edible Centerpiece Competition accepts only individual entries. In this competition, students are judged on their creative abilities by carving fruits and vegetables to create an edible work of art.This competition allows students 15 minutes to set their stations, followed by 45 minutes in which they must create their centerpiece.
Impacting Students Across Kansas
ProStart is utilized in 27 high schools across the state of Kansas and impacts 1,600 students.
Where high schools used to offer Home Economic courses, they now focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE). Schools that are actively receiving funding for offering CTE programs are required to gear their curriculum to prepare students for a future career. ProStart teaches students a variety of skills that will prove useful when they enter the workforce.
“One-in-three Americans’ first job is working at a restaurant. Whether the students choose our industry as a career, or a stepping stone on the way to another profession, the skills they are learning will be critical for future success,” said Neeley Carlson of the KRHA. “ProStart students are learning soft skills such as time management, decision making, professionalism, teamwork, communication skills, and a few industry-specific skills such as culinary techniques and restaurant principles.”
In addition, ProStart helps students further their education by alleviating financial burdens. This year, teams who placed first through third in the Culinary and Management competitions will be eligible for scholarships through The Culinary Institute of America, The Culinary Institute of Virginia, Flint Hills Technical College, Kansas State University, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute, and Sullivan University. The teams that place first in these competitions will also be eligible for an offer from The Art Institutes.
“KRHA has a very strong ProStart program and much of this is due to the passionate teachers in the classrooms across Kansas, going above and beyond to create learning opportunities for their students,” said Neeley Carlson of KRHA.
National ProStart Invitational
The National ProStart Invitational will be held on April 28-30 in Charleston, South Carolina.