Future Chefs and Aspiring Restaurateurs Turned Up the Heat at 13th Annual Texas ProStart Invitational
Winning teams go on to compete at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C.
(WACO, TX) March 27, 2023 – More than 300 talented high school students studying the business and art of food came together to compete at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26, at the Waco Convention Center, Waco, Texas. The annual competition showcased teams of aspiring young chefs, restaurateurs, and more who are involved in ProStart, a national industry-based culinary arts and hospitality program and curriculum managed in Texas by the Texas Restaurant Association’s (TRA) workforce development arm, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF), for more than 220 high schools throughout the state.
This year’s competition, one of the largest of its kind in the country, was presented by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and hosted more than forty-five teams of 5 high school students competing in one of two categories: culinary or management.
The 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational Culinary Finalists:
- 1st place: Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy, Rockwall, TX
- 2nd place: Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX
- 3rd place: Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Tech High School, Houston, TX
The 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational Management Finalists:
- 1st place: Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX
- 2nd place: Turner College & Career High School, Pearland, TX
- 3rd place: Allen High School, Allen, TX
Culinary teams were tasked with preparing a three-course meal in 60 minutes. Judges evaluated the students’ knife skills, teamwork, safety and sanitation, the taste of the food, and menu development, specifically regarding recipes and cost.
Students on management teams competed Shark Tank-style, developing and presenting an original restaurant concept, including a menu, staffing, and marketing plans, then relying on critical thinking skills to address everyday challenges.
The two first place teams will go on to represent Texas and compete at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C., set for May 2-4, 2023. A $5,000 scholarship to the winning teams is provided by the Texas Restaurant Foundation, along with several college scholarships for the students of the first, second and third place teams.
In addition to the main team competitions, additional President Awards were presented along with awards for students of the program who competed in the following Individual Competitions: For a complete list of event winners visit www.texasprostart.com.
BUILD A BETTER BURGER, SPONSORED BY TEXAS BEEF COUNCIL
1st Place: Demetreus Kelley, Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX
BEST TACO IN TOWN
1st Place: Blake Spencer, Mesquite High School, Mesquite, TX
1st Place: Kaniya Salazar, Cedar Park High School, Cedar Park, TX
1st Place: Jacob Richardson, Miller Career and Technology Center, Katy, TX
SET THE TABLE
1st Place: Emily Rangel, Waller High School, Waller TX
LET THEM DECORATE CAKE
1st Place: Liam Keathley, Burkburnett High School, Burkburnett, TX
“We are so proud of all of these students, teachers and supporting parents whose hard work, brilliant ideas, and ferocious skill were inspiring,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. “The future of the hospitality industry in Texas is bright .”
The Texas ProStart Program is the largest in the country and focuses on developing the next generation of restaurant and foodservice leaders. Texas ProStart has a long history of sending top competitors to the national competition. The program is industry driven, combining culinary arts and restaurant management training to build practical skills. ProStart provides students a platform to discover new interests while highlighting successful career opportunities across the industry. More than 25,000 students at more than 220 schools participate in ProStart programs throughout Texas every year. The invitational alone draws more than 300 high school students.
To learn more about investing in the future of the Texas restaurant and hospitality industry, go to www.txrestaurant.org/foundation.
• Photo 1: The first-place culinary team from Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy, Rockwall, TX at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26 in Waco, Texas.
• Photo 2: The first-place management team from Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26 in Waco, Texas.
• Photo 3: The first-place management team from Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX celebrates their win at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26 in Waco, Texas.
• Photo4: TRA President & CEO Emily Williams Knight encourages the B.O. Davis High School culinary team during their competition.
• Photo 5: The third place management team from Allen High School presents their restaurant concept to a panel of judges at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26 in Waco, Texas.
ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
Formed in 1937, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) serves as the advocate and indispensable resource for the foodservice industry in Texas. As a leading business association, the TRA represents the state’s $87 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses more than 53,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the TRA, the association proudly continues to protect, advance, and educate a growing industry as the TRA enters its 86th anniversary year. For more information, please visit www.txrestaurant.org.
ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT FOUNDATION
Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. Leveraging the latest skills, tools, and certifications, the TRF creates pathways of opportunity for one of the state’s largest and most diverse industries. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management program that reaches more than 25,000 students across 215 high schools in Texas. The TRF also supports restaurants in times of crisis; for example, in 2020, the TRF established the TX Restaurant Relief Fund to raise and distribute more than $3.5 million to support over 800 independent restaurants and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.