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ProStart Students Shine During the 2011 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show

(CHICAGO) Industry leaders, dedicated supporters, and celebrity chefs all lent their time and talent to support ProStart at this year's National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. ProStart high school students took to the stage, the Show floor, and to the kitchen to demonstrate their skills and expertise in this international arena, enhancing their real-world industry experience and making connections that will last a lifetime.

 

Contact: Megan Meyer (312) 715-6741


(CHICAGO) Industry leaders, dedicated supporters, and celebrity chefs all lent their time and talent to support ProStart at this year's National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. ProStart high school students took to the stage, the Show floor, and to the kitchen to demonstrate their skills and expertise in this international arena, enhancing their real-world industry experience and making connections that will last a lifetime.

"The ProStart students took Chicago by storm with meaningful appearances at events throughout the busiest weekend for the restaurant industry," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). "They impressed Show attendees with their industry knowledge and helped on board one of the city's most popular food trucks. All the way, the students made their way through this momentous weekend with the professionalism and passion that the ProStart program cultivates."

ProStart - the NRAEF's proven, high-impact program for high school students - reaches more than 90,000 students in 1,700 high schools across 45 states, Guam, and U.S. military bases. It brings industry and the classroom together to give students a platform to discover new interests and talents and open doors for fulfilling careers.

Starting the week off with a bang, the wildly popular food truck restaurateur Matt Maroni invited several groups of ProStart students to help staff his gaztro-wagon and work his busy lunch rush around the Chicago Loop. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Chef Maroni, culinary students from Tilden Community Career Academy in Chicago had the chance to learn first-hand about this hot food trend while raising funds for the program. gaztro-wagon followers lined the sidewalks of downtown Chicago, and students took the opportunity to spread the ProStart buzz as they sold gourmet naan-wiches to benefit the program.

 

On Saturday morning, at the World Culinary Showcase, the 2011 National ProStart Invitational Culinary Champions from California's Newport Harbor High School had an outstanding opportunity to act as sous chefs for celebrity chef and Top Chef All Stars champion Richard Blais. Chef Blais worked with the students during on-stage demonstrations for NRA Show attendees. The students assisted with prep and creating dishes using sous vide techniques and working with unusual ingredients such as dry ice. Later that day, the National ProStart Invitational Management Champions from the same high school stopped by the NRAEF Donor Appreciation Luncheon at Chicago's Trump International Hotel to share their National ProStart Invitational experience and to present their first place original restaurant concept Spotlight. Their presentation gave donors the chance to understand and appreciate the power that ProStart has to build the industry's future leaders.

Click here to see photos of ProStart students with Top Chef Richard Blais and presenting at the NRAEF Donor Appreciation Luncheon.

Saturday evening, during the NRAEF's premier fundraising gala Salute to Excellence, both National ProStart Invitational management and culinary champion teams mingled with industry legends to celebrate the event's 25th anniversary. The culinary team assisted the Hilton Chicago's head chef in preparing their award-winning appetizer while the management students welcomed guests to their restaurant concept brought to life in the reception space of the event.

Click here to see photos of ProStart students at the 25th Anniversary of Salute to Excellence.

The following morning, the National ProStart Invitational fourth place management team from Plymouth-Canton Educational Park in Michigan joined the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors at their Spring Meeting. Student LaSeasha Pollard gave a moving address to the board about the impact the ProStart program had on her and her teammates, and why the backing of the industry means so much to them.

On Sunday evening, ProStart students from Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, headed to the Ecolab Chairman's Reception and 9th Annual Silent benefitting the NRAEF. With the generous support from Ecolab and ancillary fundraising efforts from the ProStart students on-site, the auction raised more than $135,000 for the NRAEF, the highest amount raised at this annual affair.

In addition to the funds raised at the Ecolab auction, ProStart was the beneficiary of McCormick for Chefs' generosity during the NRA Show. Throughout the Show's four days, McCormick donated $1 per attendee badge scanned at their booth, for a total of $10,000.

Click here to see photos of McCormick for Chefs leadership, NRAEF board leadership, and ProStart students at the check presentation.

Throughout the NRA Show, ProStart students hosted both culinary and management demos on the Show floor that were open to all attendees. Attracting quite the crowd, one of the ProStart teams had the chance to meet with Tom Colicchio, famed chef and head judge of the "Top Chef" reality show, who stopped by to show his support of the program. Chef Colicchio continued to show his enthusiasm for ProStart by hosting Restaurants Rock, a new event in 2011, held at La Salle Power Company with all proceeds benefitting ProStart.

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