Mentors propel workforce growth

“For twenty years it was hard to take a vacation or more than one day off in a week,” said Scott Fraser, executive chef/owner of Frasers Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor, Wash., and Washington Restaurant Association Member.

Today Fraser makes time not only for much needed vacations, but he also makes it a priority to contribute to the education of the future leaders of the industry he is passionate about.

Fraser has been mentoring ProStart students at Oak Harbor High School for seven years.
ProStart is a culinary arts technical program sponsored by the Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation that is in 40 high schools throughout Washington state. Originally created by the National Restaurant Association, ProStart is designed to prepare high school students for careers in the foodservice industry through academic and workplace experiences.

As part of the program, instructors and program coordinators seek out mentors to weave into the teaching structure. ProStart mentors are a critical element and invaluable when it comes to adding real life dynamics and providing role models for our future workforce.

According to Louise Rueble, ProStart instructor for Oak Harbor High School, having Fraser as a mentor has been a very positive experience.

“We’re so lucky to have Scott,” said Rueble. “I think it’s just phenomenal that he has stayed with this.”

Fraser has been a big contributor and a positive influence on students. His contributions also extend beyond the high school classroom and into the real world classroom, his restaurant. Students not only get the chance to re-engineer menu items, they are also afforded internship opportunities at Frasers Gourmet Hideaway. Plus, several former Oak Harbor ProStart students have returned home after receiving post-secondary education at culinary arts schools and found a job at their former mentors restaurant.

“He’s as excited about this as the kids,” said Rueble. “He’s already planning for the 2009 state and national competition.”

State and national competitions are a key element to help ProStart students strive for success, and Fraser coaches them for competition. Going above and beyond the call, Fraser has traveled with the team to North Carolina and California as they have competed with the nation’s best of the best.

“To help these kids set goals for their life and future is incredible,” said Fraser. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

To get involved in the ProStart mentoring program contact the Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation at prostart@wrahome.com.

By Camille St. Onge

Categories: Training & Education