Two Washington teams win cooking contest and move on to National competition

Two Washington teams win cooking contest and move on to National competition


February 17, 2015
Contact: Stephanie Davenport

OLYMPIA, WASH. – One hundred and six young students from across the state competed in the annual Boyd’s Coffee® ProStart Invitational this past weekend. The students left the event with a new appreciation of teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking. Parents, teachers, staff and renowned chefs left amazed.

This year Oak Harbor High School took first place in the culinary segment. Stadium High School, from Tacoma, won first place for the management section. The winners from Washington will go on to compete in the national competition against 47 other states.

“Imagine being sixteen years old, and having accomplished business owners and celebrated chefs critique your work, American Idol style. These kids put so much work and passion into their restaurant idea, and have so much confidence,” said Anthony Anton, WRA President and CEO. “The judges are fantastic at blending praise and ideas for growth. I hope all the kids are WRA members one day.”

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. Culinary teams had to cook an appetizer, a main course and a dessert in one hour only using butane burners plus passing a judged segment on knife skills. Management teams had to present a full business plan to a panel of twelve judges. The results are often far beyond what you might expect from a teenager.

“Amazing, and powerful is how I would best describe this event. Amazing because the kids blew me away with their performance. Amazing because the industry steps up to volunteer, judge, give, coach, mentor and participate at the highest level. Powerful because it changes and influences lives and the communities we live in for the better,” said Lyle Hildahl, director of the WRA Education Foundation.

In total, 19 teams from Washington competed for the top spot. Six teams came from Spokane; two were from Tacoma, Seattle, and Puyallup. Bellevue, Sumner, Bothell, Kent, Oak Harbor, Tekoa and Walla Walla all sent one team.

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.


Print quality photos: http://warestaur

Restaurants serve. The Washington Restaurant Association has served its members and helped them succeed in business for 86 years. Restaurants are the largest private employer in the state, with more than 218,000 employees. Washington’s 13,832 restaurants annually contribute $15.1 billion to the state economy, generate $757 million in state taxes, and pay more than $3.8 billion in wages each year. Washington restaurants are the cornerstone of the economy, vital to communities and fundamental to careers. Learn more at
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