Eye on Hospitality: ProStart Teacher and Mentor of the Year – Touching Lives, Building the Industry’s Future
By Paul Schlienz
ProStart is many things. It is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. In Washington, the program serves more than 1,500 students per year. After completing the program, students receive a certificate of achievement they can present to potential employers when they enter the labor force.
Through ProStart, high school students learn about the culinary arts: flavor profiles, presentation, storage practices, nutrition, business math and the importance of workplace and food safety.
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But none of this would be possible without teachers and mentors, from the foodservice industry, to guide the students through ProStart’s demanding curriculum.
So, congratulations to 2018 ProStart Teacher of the Year Kahale Ahina and 2018 Mentor of the Year David Corekin, both from Bonney Lake High School.
“ProStart mentors and teachers work together to provide kids, in the program, really good leadership,” said Ahina, who was also ProStart Teacher of the Year in 2013. “The goal is to get our students to have a seamless transition from school to industry, and ProStart does a really good job of this.”
Corekin, who is territory manager at Valley Harvest Products, in Tukwila, works with Ahina as mentor to the Bonney Lake management team, which came in at second place in the management competition at last weekend’s ProStart Invitational competition, in Spokane.
“I think our management did so well because the kids had real passion for their restaurant concept, which represented the flavors and cuisine of the Northwest,” said Corekin. “And we put lots of preparation into it.”
Corekin derives great person satisfaction from the work he does with the ProStart students.
“The kids help keep me on my toes and feeling young at heart,” said Corekin. “Seeing their growth, and knowing you’ve had a hand in it is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable.”
Ahina, too, is very proud to have been part of the students’ growth.
“The fact is that these kids have changed after going through the competition and teamwork that ProStart is all about and learning many life lessons. One of our students was once afraid to speak in public, but after she was in the ProStart program, she was able to speak before the judges with great confidence and passion. I can tell you that her parents were thrilled to see her transformation, and I was very proud to have contributed to her growth as a teacher.
Corekin urges people in the foodservice industry to get involved, as he did, as a ProStart mentor.
“Jump at the opportunity to be a ProStart mentor,” said Corekin. “Helping guide youth into the industry’s future is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.”
SPOKANE – Student chefs and restaurateurs competed in a heated culinary and management competition Saturday in Spokane.
Newport High School from Bellevue, Wash., took top honors in both the culinary and management competitions. The teams will travel to Providence, R.I. in April.
The complete list of winners:
- Newport High School (Bellevue), first place
- Kentlake High School (Kent), second place
- Bonney Lake High School, third place
- Newport High School, first place
- Bonney Lake High School, second place
- Ferris High School (Spokane), third place
Educator of Excellence:
Kahale Ahina, Bonney Lake
Mentor of Excellence:
Dan Corekin, Bonney Lake
Student of Excellence:
Derek Tran, Rogers High School (Spokane)
In the culinary competition, students had 60 minutes to create a three-course meal using butane burners: no electricity or running water.
Newport High School won with a crispy soft-shell crab appetizer, a Takamori chicken and pork ramen main course, and a molten lava cake with black tea ice cream, brown butter, a sesame tuile and Brule oranges for dessert.
During the management competition, students presented their concepts, business plans and menus to judges. Newport created a Ramen House concept.
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. In Washington, the program serves more than 1,500 students per year. After completing the program, students receive a certificate of achievement they can present to potential employers when they enter the labor force.
Through the ProStart program, high school students learn about the culinary arts: flavor profiles, presentation, storage practices, nutrition, business math and the importance of workplace and food safety.
About the Washington Hospitality Association
The Washington Hospitality Association is a member-based organization that works at the state and local levels to find proactive solutions to the challenging issues facing the industry and its workforce. It provides its members with programs, services and the information they need to deliver great local experiences, ensure the success of their employees and help their communities thrive. The Washington Hospitality Association became one of the state’s largest trade associations in 2016 when the Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association joined forces in a combined association.
About Washington’s Hospitality Industry
Hospitality is the industry that serves. It represents the largest group of private employers in the state, and the jobs the industry provides are the backbone of the state’s economy. Local restaurants and hotels employ more than 280,000 Washingtonians and each year, the hospitality industry generates more than $1.1 billion in state sales and Business & Occupation taxes. The hospitality industry is key to the health of our state, the careers of our citizens and the vitality of our communities.