From ProStart to Future Bakery Owner

My interest in the restaurant industry began at a young age as I watched several of my family members in the kitchen. My grandpa ran a catering business and helping him was my first real experience working in the foodservice industry. From that experience early on, I was able to learn basic cooking skills and several lessons in customer service. The ProStart program taught me so much more than culinary skills. During those two years I learned how to work together with my team and challenge myself to continually improve my work. Going through the ProStart program was something that I will never forget and I believe that it was ProStart that pushed me to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.

My advice to someone who is thinking about going into the restaurant industry would be to go for it. I think that if someone is truly passionate about cooking for people, they should look into culinary school or a program at a university that will prepare them for the restaurant world. To someone who is still in high school, I would highly recommend going through the ProStart program. That experience was something that has changed my life and I think that anyone with that opportunity should definitely take advantage of it while they can.

I have received many opportunities through the restaurant industry. Aside from my high school experience with ProStart, I had an awesome summer internship at Cache Bake Shoppe, a bakery that I worked at in high school. I have also received multiple scholarships through ProStart which will help me continue my education at Iowa State. I am so incredibly grateful for my experiences in ProStart and the opportunities that continue to surround me in the restaurant industry.

The greatest challenge I have faced so far is finding my way outside of culinary school. Throughout my senior year, I knew that culinary school was not the path for me, but it was still difficult to find a school that would provide me with the skills and tools I will need in the future. The culinary science program at Iowa State typically does not produce bakery owners. However, I feel that the knowledge I obtain during my years here will help me when it comes to recipe development in the future. I am planning on having a bakery with fresh and local ingredients. What I am learning at school will help me make the best use of the ingredients that will be available to me and I am happy with my decision to go through this program.

Jessica Havel went to Waukee High School, in Waukee, Iowa, and is currently a sophomore at Iowa State University majoring in culinary science.

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From local bistros to national chains, restaurants play an essential role in shaping communities and neighborhoods across the nation, and creating opportunities for people everywhere.  To celebrate the “best of the best” in diversity and inclusion, community service and hospitality leadership, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today the 2017 Restaurant Neighbor, Faces of Diversity and Ambassador of Hospitality award winners.
 

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