ProStart students

Oregon ProStart H.S. Culinary Championships

February 28, 2015 | Spirit Mountain Casino, Grand Ronde

Oregon Prostart® high school culinary students compete for $150,000 in scholarships and a spot in the national tournament.

The pressure is on. Using only two butane burners and without access to running water or electricity, approximately 100 students from 20 Oregon high schools will prepare a three-course gourmet meal in just 60 minutes. They’re on a quest to win the ProStart® Culinary High School Championship hosted by the Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association on February 28 at Spirit Mountain Casino.

Coached by teachers and professional chefs, the ProStart teams will demonstrate their mastery of culinary and teamwork skills in seven categories of fast-paced competition as they vie for their share of more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes. Teams are evaluated on taste, presentation, knife skills, and teamwork, among other skills. The first-place team in each category will be crowned state champions and represent Oregon at the National ProStart Invitational, the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts, April 2015 at Disneyland, California.

The championship event in Portland is free to the public, with heats typically starting at 9:00 am running through 1:00 p.m., and winners announced at 5:00 p.m. that evening. A final schedule for this year's event will be posted in January 2015.

“We are committed to providing education and training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant/lodging/travel industry. Employment opportunities are significant and, in fact, the foodservice and lodging industry contributes over $8 billion in annual sales and is responsible for over 164,800 jobs for its citizens,” said Wendy Popkin, executive director of the Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLAEF). “The ProStart program teaches high school students the culinary and management skills needed by the nation’s restaurant, hospitality and foodservice employers and supports teachers in this career and technical education-oriented focus. The state competition is the capstone of the two-year program and provides a public opportunity for students to showcase what they have learned.”

Currently 36 Oregon schools, with more than 3,000 students participate in the ProStart training program. Nationally, ProStart is taught in more than 1,900 schools across 48 states, Guam and U.S. military bases. This school year alone, over 95,000 students are enrolled.

For more information on how you can participate or support this program, contact Wendy Popkin, executive director, ORLA Education Foundation, at 503.682.4422.


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