Thursday, February 26, 2015

Louisiana ProStart students compete for nearly $1.2M in scholarships

Louisiana Seafood on board as title sponsor

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) will host its 14th Annual Louisiana Seafood ProStart® Student Invitational, March 3-4, 2015 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Hall J. Nearly $1.2 million in scholarship opportunities will be awarded to students whose teams place in the top three in both the culinary and management competitions. The funds were donated from 10 of the leading post-secondary culinary and hospitality programs in the country, including: Culinary Institute of America, Louisiana Culinary Institute and John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, among others. The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board is the invitational’s title sponsor for the third consecutive year.

ProStart students compete in teams of
four and prepare a three-course gourmet
meal featuring Louisiana Seafood in
just one hour. 
“Nearly $1.2 million in scholarship awards available at a ProStart Invitational in a state of our size is impressive,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris. “It adds so much stature to our event and to our industry and illustrates that the schools providing these scholarships value the ProStart program.”

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. By bringing industry and the classroom together, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. Students are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus providing hands-on training. Many of LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students and also hire them.

The invitational showcases the culinary and academic talents of high school junior and senior ProStart students from 21 schools across Louisiana. The invitational features two primary components: the Culinary Competition and the Management Competition.

During the Culinary Competition, Tuesday, March 3 from 10:45 a.m. – 5 p.m., teams will demonstrate their creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal. All teams’ menus must feature at least one type of Louisiana seafood. Twenty-four judges from the foodservice industry and post-secondary educational institutions will observe and rate their performance during the competition. Judges volunteering their time and expertise include Chef Haley Bittermann of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Chef Brian Landry of Borgne and Chef Kelly Fields of Restaurant August.

Chef Brian Landry of Borgne Restaurant
gives ProStart teams immediate feedback
as a Culinary Competition judge. 
Teams participating in the Management Competition, Wednesday, March 4 from 8:25 a.m. – 2:05 p.m., will demonstrate their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies which they present to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur who pitch to a group of investors. Judges include Dr. Yvette  Green of the Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism at UNO, Octavio Mantilla of the John Besh Restaurant Group, Tom Pyburn of Emeril’s Homebase and Keith Rush of the Louisiana Culinary Institute.

The 2015 LRAEF Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors include: Louisiana Seafood, Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Performance Foodservice Caro, Atmos Energy, Louisiana Culinary Institute, Camellia Brand, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Louisiana Gas Association, Whole Foods, Alack Culinary Equipment & Supplies Superstore, Centerplate, Coca-Cola, Community Coffee, Custom Apparel, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Generations Hall and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

The participating schools in the Culinary Arts Competition are: Abbeville High School, Career Academy, Dutchtown High School, East Iberville High School, East St. John High School, Fontainebleau High School, Grace King High School, Hammond High Magnet School, John Ehret High School, Lakeshore High School, North Vermilion High School, Salmen High School, St. James Parish Career & Technology Center, Sulphur High School, Tara High School, West Feliciana High School, West St. John High School and Woodlawn High School. 

The participating schools in the Management Competition are: Alfred Bonnabel Magnet Academy, Donaldsonville High School, Lakeshore High School, Hammond High Magnet School, North Vermilion High School, Springfield High School, Tara High School, West Feliciana High School and Woodlawn High School.

The winning teams will go on to represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational April 18-20, 2015 in Anaheim, Calif., where they will compete for an additional $1.4 million in scholarship dollars. 

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