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NYSRA Educational Foundation Hosts 2016 ProStart Competition at Schenectady County Community College

Monday, February 29, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joseph Hurley
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Competition sets all-time high for student and school participation; Ulster County BOCES and Putnam Westchester BOCES took home the top prizes

Albany, New York — ProStart, a national curriculum that teaches high school students culinary and restaurant management skills, hosted students from all over New York State this past weekend as they competed in the 12th Annual ProStart Invitational at Schenectady County Community College (SCCC). Teams were challenged to show off their culinary and restaurant management acumen, and competed for over $2 million in scholarships. More than 40 restaurant owners, managers, chefs and college instructors from across the state judged the teams with the winners moving on to represent New York at the National ProStart Invitational April 29 – May 1, 2016, in Dallas, TX.

With 115 student participants from 26 schools across the state, this year’s event set an all-time high for participation for the annual competition. Ulster County BOCES won first place in this year’s culinary competition while Putnam/Westchester BOCES took home the top prize on the management side of things.

“The restaurant industry is one of the largest employers in New York State and the ProStart program allows students to get a taste of the world of opportunities the business has to offer them,” said Melissa Fleischut, President & CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association. “Whether it’s on the culinary or management side, the ProStart curriculum exposes these students to the intricacies of the industry, helping them find a passion they maybe didn’t realize they had.”

The ProStart event is made up of two distinct competitions. The culinary competition highlights each team’s creative abilities and forces teams to prepare a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners, and without access to running water or electricity. Teams were evaluated on taste, skill, teamwork, safety and sanitation. The second component of the event is the management competition, where teams developed and presented a proposal for the next promising restaurant concept to a panel of judges who then were able to question the students on all aspects of their idea.

“By allowing students to present and cook in front of leading industry professionals they will gain valuable insight into how the industry operates and what it takes to make a career in the culinary arena,” said Rick Sampson, NYS Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Executive Director. “ProStart exposes students at a young age to everything the restaurant industry has to offer and competitions like this one help show that what these kids learn in these classes are applicable in the real world.”

Local elected officials were also on hand to see the kids in action.

“The ProStart Invitational challenges our high school students by putting the cooking and management skills they are learning in school to the test. It's a great way to help prepare them for employment opportunities in a field they are passionate about,” Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said. “These competitors gain valuable hands-on experience that gives them an advantage in a competitive job market, put their talent on display for the community to enjoy and have some fun along the way. We are so fortunate to be able to host this statewide competition right here in the great city of Schenectady, adding to the world-class culinary programs offered at our wonderful Schenectady County Community College.”

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