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ProStart Culinary Students to Compete at State Invitational

At Westminster High School, a delicious aroma of cardamom floated through the cafeteria as students cooked and plated sophisticated three course meals as practice for the upcoming Colorado ProStart® Invitational that will host teams from more than 30 Colorado high schools.

As students prepare for the competition, scheduled for Thursday, February 24 at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, they are not hoping for more than just awards at the competition.  For many, this is an important step in preparing for careers in the culinary industry after graduation from high school.

During their practice sessions, five students worked in unison cutting, washing, whipping and measuring all the food while keeping their workstations clean and organized. The competition rules are strict: they have 15 minutes to prep and exactly one hour to cook and plate three sophisticated dishes using only two butane burners and without the convenience of running water or electricity.

This year’s menu includes a refreshing blood orange, burrata and beet salad; a creamy mushroom risotto with pan seared scallops and quail egg; and a delicate poached pear with sabayon. The students will not only be judged on the taste, originality and presentation of the dishes themselves, but also on their professional appearance, time management skills and the communication between team members as they maneuver with hot plates and sharp tools in a tight space. All of this while several judges hover over their tables watching their every move, taking notes and docking points for even minor mistakes.

During the Pro-Start invitational, students will compete in two categories: Culinary and Management.  While the culinary team prepares and plates the meals, the management team will present their vision for a new ”concept”  restaurant to a panel of industry judges. The management teams problem-solving skills will also be tested as they must quickly solve challenges faced by managers on a daily basis.

This intense competition is one of the state’s biggest culinary arts and restaurant management competitions for high school students.   Winning students can earn thousands of dollars in scholarships and the chance to compete in the National ProStart® Student Invitational scheduled for May in Washington D.C.