Michigan, Connecticut take top spots in ProStart’s 2023 NPSI

Delaware, Texas secure second place finishes in culinary, management competitions

Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware, and Texas took home the top prizes at the 2023 National ProStart Invitational (NPSI). The event featured grueling competitions in culinary and business management categories. More than 400 students competed for top prizes. Overall, the top 10 teams will receive almost $200,000 in scholarships.

It was a pleasure to connect with students and witness the fighting spirit of the teams as they competed. The ProStart program, run exceptionally well by the National Restaurant Educational Foundation (NRAEF), provides a premium opportunity for high school students to find a career path within the restaurant industry.

Grueling competition

In the culinary competition, teams had just 60 minutes to prepare a three course, fine-dining menu, using only two butane burners and no running water.

Similarly, students vied for a top spot in the NPSI management competition. The various teams presented their innovative restaurant business pitches to judges. In the end, just a few eked out top spot recognition as a result of their entrepreneurial ideas, as well as their resourceful responses to tough questions from industry judges.

Michelle Korsmo, president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association and chief executive of the NRAEF, said, “This year’s National ProStart Invitational winners delivered exciting results when they brought creativity, passion, and initiative to the table. The individuality of the students shines through in each culinary submission.

She added, “And throughout the management competitions, we saw students with strong business acumen design thriving restaurant organizations. These competitors are the best of the best, and I know they will inspire other students to take a chance, create something new, and be part of this amazing restaurant community.”


2023 NPSI winners

The ProStart team from Plymouth Canton Educational Park in Canton, Michigan took first place in the National ProStart Invitational culinary competition. Team members included Carmen Hensley, Charles Salowich, Mazin Ahmed, Sophie Dorado, and Yamir Garver. Their menu of soy-marinated tuna as a starter, strip steak and braised short rib with potato dauphinoise and puree was impressive. A dessert of coconut Bavarian with orange-almond cake sealed the deal.

Conversely, the management team from Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut defended their Nafas Kitchen concept in front of judges. The group’s casual, West-Asian restaurant stood out, erected as a place for advocacy, change, and community. These inspired Connecticut students, Jailyn Gonzalez, Adam Sharqawe, Paulette Jara, and Charlotte Buterbaugh, crafted dishes from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Levant region.

“The passion and talent displayed by this week’s National ProStart Invitational competitors was truly awe-inspiring, giving us a front row seat to the next generation that will shape our industry,” said Rob Gifford, NRAEF president. “Thanks to the daily work of our educators, ProStart is equipping these students with crucial career-building skills that will enhance their lives in the industry, or wherever their futures take them.”


Culinary winners

  • Plymouth Canton Educational Park – Canton, Michigan
  • Caesar Rodney High School – Camden, Delaware
  • Newport High School – Bellevue, Washington
  • Anderson Career & Technology Center – Williamston, South Carolina
  • Broadmoor Bistro @ The Center for Academic Achievement – Overland Park, Kansas

Management winners

  • Wilbur Cross High School – New Haven, Connecticut
  • Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, Texas
  • San Dimas High School – San Dimas, California
  • Andover Central High School – Andover, Kansas
  • Chalmette High School – Chalmette, Louisiana

James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year

According to the NRAEF, “During the award ceremony, held May 4 in Washington, DC, NPSI also recognized Chef Patrick Phelan from St. Charles Parish Public Schools’ Satellite Center in Luling, Louisiana, as the program’s 2023 James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year. With support from Golden Corral, the award is part of the annual Educator of Excellence award program, which recognizes the country’s top ProStart educators who demonstrate classroom excellence and an unparalleled commitment to helping their students make the most of the program’s opportunities.”

Generous sponsors from The Coca-Cola Company, DIRECTV for Business National Accounts, Ecolab, Golden Corral, Kellogg’s, and Nestlé Professional helped elevate the 2023 National ProStart Invitational to success.

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