The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) hosted the 16th Annual Louisiana ProStart® Invitational, March 30-31, 2017, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation was the title sponsor for the Culinary Competition and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers was the title sponsor for the Management Competition. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competition showcased the culinary and creative talents of ProStart students from 17 high schools. The Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Management Competition featured the conceptual restaurant development and marketing ingenuity of ProStart students from 11 high schools.
During the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their knife skills, teamwork, menu execution and creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal in 60 minutes.
The winner of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competition is Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, led by instructor Judy Achary and students Mackenzie Fomby, Leighanne Lachney, Sherran Marx, Olivia Salazar and Victoria Schaff. The team’s mentors were Chefs Erick Loos and Corey Sharp of the Besh Restaurant Group. Lakeshore High School placed third in the Culinary Competition last year and first in 2014 and 2015.
Lakeshore High School’s winning menu was: Starter- Seared scallops; Entrée- Lamb loin and polenta; and Dessert- Fresh basil ice cream.
The second place team was West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, led by instructor Amy Dreher and students Lauren Broussard, Blane Coley, Jordyn Cooper, Mika Cooper and Ben Souther. The third place team was Hammond High Magnet School, led by instructor Angie Drago and students Sara Baiamonte, Andrew Cambre, Kearstin Foster and Jerl Kershenstine. The fourth place team was Abbeville High School, led by instructor Devin Romero and students Mollie Abshire, Courtney Broussard, Kayle Gaspard, Tristyn Harrington and Tori Vaughn. The fifth place team was Lafourche Parish Career Magnet Center in Lockport, led by instructors Becky LeBlanc and Dwayne Guidry and students Nikita Allemand, Maris Griffin and Joshua Wheater.
Teams participating in the Raising Cane’s Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including menu design, layout, operations, budgeting 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 Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Management Competition is Academy of Our Lady in Marrero, led by instructor Tracie Comeaux and students Faith Bailey, Cailey Rousseau, Chelsey Termine and Helen Tshaya. Academy of Our Lady is a first-year ProStart program, which makes them first-time competitors.
Academy of Our Lady’s winning restaurant concept was Garden of Eatin’, a farm-to-table, casual and full service Mediterranean restaurant.
The second place team was North Vermilion High School in Maurice, led by instructor Daphne Smith and students Victoria Broussard, Adrian Courville, Chance Elliot, Austin Sarver and Audrey Thebner. The third place team was Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, led by instructor Judy Achary and students Miranda Alphonso, Mackenzie Fomby, Gavin Morel and Even Puissegur. The fourth place team was Springfield High School, led by instructor Carol Tate and students Cody Bunch, Jessica Kirkland, Kiani Miller, Beth Quave and Lily Schubert. The fifth place team was West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, led by instructor Amy Dreher and students Helen Davis, Alli Spillman, Jessica Perdue and Ciara Peters.
Lakeshore High School and Academy of Our Lady will represent Louisiana in the National ProStart Invitational in Charleston, South Carolina, April 28-30, 2017, where they will compete for an additional $1 million in scholarship dollars.
Schools were also recognized for their individual achievements in various categories within the two competitions.
The 2017 Louisiana ProStart Invitational Sponsors include: Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Performance Foodservice Caro, Atmos Energy, Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, Ben E. Keith Co., Delaware North, Ecolab, Louisiana Culinary Institute, Besh Restaurant Group, Louisiana Gas Association, Capitol City Produce, Centerplate, Coca-Cola, Community Coffee, Freeman Decorating, and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The LRAEF would also like to thank the nine chapters of the LRA for their support throughout the year.
ProStart is a nationwide career technical education program where high-school students learn from an industry-derived, competency-based curriculum that teaches culinary techniques and restaurant management skills, coupled with real-life restaurant sector experiences. In addition to industry-specific skills, a majority of ProStart students report learning critical employability skills, including workplace and professional behavior, communications skills and teamwork.
The LRAEF pairs ProStart students and LRA members together in a mutually-beneficial relationship. 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.