Local teens compete in the state’s premier culinary competition

Local teens compete in the state’s premier culinary competition https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ProStart2-861x198.jpg

FEBRUARY 12, 2015
Contact: Stephanie Davenport

When February 28, 2015 dawns it’s likely 106 young students will be awake to see it; filled with excitement over the arrival of their big day. For these enthusiastic, local high school kids, February 28 will be an important crossroads in their lives. They’ve practiced; they’ve trained; they have sharpened their knives and their skills.On that day, this select group of students from local high schools will compete in the state’s premier culinary competition: the Boyd’s Coffee® ProStart Invitational.

Through this experience of competition, these students will have learned much more than the quality of taste, presentation and technique. They are demonstrating at the highest level: teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and skills that will assist them in any career they choose.ProStart is a nationwide, two-year hospitality program that develops culinary techniques and management skills in high school students. The competition is a chance for students to show-off what they have learned in their time at ProStart.

The results are often awe-inspiring. As attendees and judges will attest, the dishes and skills demonstrated during this competition are far beyond what you might expect from a teenager.Unbeknownst to many, this competition is open to the public and held at the local technical college in Lakewood. Sadly, in years past the event has remained in relative anonymity. The Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) is trying to change that this year.

“These kids deserve the attention of their communities. Their work will amaze anyone who takes the time to attend this competition,” said Anthony Anton, WRA president and CEO. “There isn’t a year I wasn’t blown-away by what these teens can do.

Photo examples of the student’s work can be seen in the Washington Restaurant Association Facebook album dedicated to the 2014 event at http://tinyurl.com/FBprostart or on their Flickr page here: http://tinyurl.com/prostartpics.

“I’ve judged culinary competitions for many years at the college level, but nothing compares to the way these kids perform,” said Lyle Hildahl, Director of the Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation. At the competition culinary teams are expected to outperform what many professional chefs could do in one hour using only propane burners instead of stoves.

This year nineteen teams will be competing for the top spot. The teams come from all over Washington. Six teams come from Spokane; two hail from Tacoma, Seattle, and Puyallup; and Bellevue, Sumner, Bothell, Kent, Oak Harbor, Tekoa, and Walla Walla are all sending one team. Only two teams will proceed to the national competition; one culinary team and one management team. The winners from Washington will go on to compete in the national competition against 47 other states.

The impacts of this competition are actually long-ranging for people outside of just the students. Many consider the restaurant industry the state’s employment training ground. In Washington, one out of every 34 people work in a restaurant. And, restaurants are the largest private employer in the state with more than 219,000 employees. These numbers confirm that programs like ProStart are, in fact, preparation for future generations of master chefs and entrepreneurs.

Celebrated chefs already know the invitational is where the fresh, young talent is coming from. It’s one of the reasons so many are personally involved in the competition.  Each year renowned chefs return as judges and mentors.

February 28 is a day not to be missed – for students and state foodies alike. For more information you can contact the WRA at (360) 956-7279 or attend the invitational at the McGavick Conference Center, Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W., Lakewood, WA 98499. The event starts at 8:30 a.m.

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