Metairie, LA-- The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) hosted the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart® Invitational, March 29-30 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Atmos Energy sponsored the Culinary Competition which showcased the culinary and creative abilities of ProStart students from 19 high schools, while BRG Hospitality sponsored the Management Competition, which featured the conceptual restaurant development and marketing ingenuity of ProStart students from 14 high schools.
During the Atmos Energy Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their teamwork, communication, sanitation, knife skills and culinary techniques throughout the 60 minutes timeframe to prepare a three-course, gourmet meal. This was achieved with no electricity or water, and just two table top butane burners.
The winner of the Atmos Energy Culinary Competition:
Chalmette High School
Instructor: Elena Hodges
Students: Sharon Johnson, Nga Phan, Jhana Fisher, Marissa Gerrick, Henry Scheeler IV
Chef Mentors: Anastasia Joyner
Winning menu: Appetizer- Shrimp Remoulade with Fried Okra; Entrée- Cajun Surf and Turf; and Dessert- Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée.
Second Place – Culinary Competition:
Lakeshore High School
Instructor: Nicole Benefiel
Students: Leah Slaton, Jaden Scott, Leah Underwood, Caroline St. Romain
Third Place – Culinary Competition:
Live Oak High School
Instructor: Angell Beswetherick
Students: Brittany Bennett, Braylee Boze, Luke Bozeman, Gavin Cadarette, Grant Starns
Fourth Place – Culinary Competition:
Sulphur High School
Instructor: Jacob Gillett
Students: Carson Brackeen, Avery Gorum, Kip White, Marie Racaa, River Lemley
Fifth Place – Culinary Competition:
Abbeville High School
Instructor: Devin Romero
Students: David Avila, Chloe Klein, Grace Landry, Ethan Matthews
Teams participating in the BRG Hospitality Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies, which they presented to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.
The winner of the BRG Hospitality Management Competition:
Chalmette High School
Instructor: Elena Hodges
Students: Vernon Patrick, Kim Nguyen, Frankie Padilla, Joshua Farrell, Ronnie Truong
Winning restaurant concept: Seaux, a Southern Louisiana and Southeast Asia fusion restaurant
Second Place – Management Competition:
West Feliciana High School
Instructor: Delanea Buffalo
Students: Emma Cutrer, Cayden Summers
Third Place – Management Competition:
W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center
Instructor: Theresa Edwards
Students: Wacovia Isaac, Serenity Portalis, Marilee Presley
Fourth Place – Management Competition:
Hammond High Magnet School
Instructor: Angelina Drago
Students: Dallas Griffitt, Kaylee Stewart
Fifth Place – Management Competition:
Plaquemine High School
Instructor: Stephanie White
Students: McKenzie Justillian, Mackenzie Anderson, Natalie Carline, Keaira Hamilton
Chalmette High School will represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C. May 2-4, 2023 where they will compete for more than $1 million in additional scholarship dollars.
The 2022 LRAEF ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors are: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Atmos Energy, BRG Hospitality, Republic National Distributing Company, Sodexo Live!, QED Hospitality, NATCO, Coca-Cola Bottling Company-United, Auto-Chlor System, PJ’s Coffee, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Community Coffee, and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
The 2022 LRAEF Annual Partners are: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society; Auto-Chlor System; Acme Oyster House; The Emeril Lagasse Foundation; Ecolab; BRG Hospitality; The Louisiana Restaurant Association; Tabasco; The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; Atmos Energy; BlueRunner; The ForeKids! Foundation; B&G Food Enterprises; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Sysco; The Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration at the University of New Orleans; NATCO Food Service; Republic National Distributing Company; QED Hospitality; The Octavio Mantilla Family Trust; and Entergy Louisiana. In addition, the LRAEF would also like to thank the nine chapters of the LRA for their support throughout the year.
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant industry leaders. By uniting the classroom and the industry, 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. ProStart is important because it provides a pathway to a student’s future success, providing a foundation for a variety of career choices—from management and culinary operations, to supply chain positions and marketing support. The possibilities are endless in an industry with many facets. Many LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students and also hire them.