Minneapolis teacher Ben Rengstorf is named the Prostart teacher of the year by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Rengstorf named as 2022 recipient during the National Prostart Invitational in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC – May 10, 2022 – The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) has named Ben Rengstorf, a Roosevelt High School ProStart® educator from Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year. The award was presented on May 8 during the 2022 National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C., where he received $10,000. It recognizes Rengstorf’s innovative culinary arts and restaurant management teaching techniques as well as his trailblazing commitment to his students and the ProStart program, which trains high school students in culinary arts and restaurant management skills.


Rengstorf, who has taught for 17 years, launched Roosevelt High School’s ProStart program in 2019 as the first ProStart program in the Minneapolis Public School District. He spearheaded the program after obtaining a culinary arts degree for the sole purpose of becoming a ProStart educator, and his innovative teaching strategies have quadrupled the number of students in the course since 2019. Additionally, he has launched a 501(c)(3) organization and website to support his ProStart students and provide culinary arts resources for the greater community.

“Ben Rengstorf represents the very best of our ProStart educators, who have navigated some extraordinary challenges in recent years in keeping their students enrolled and engaged in ProStart in a meaningful way,” said Rob Gifford, President of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “We are grateful to our longtime partner, Golden Corral, for recognizing the outstanding educators who bring ProStart to life in schools across the country.”

“Ben Rengstorf is a ProStart educator of excellence in the truest sense, demonstrating unparalleled dedication to advancing the role of culinary arts and restaurant management skills in the lives of his students, while showing a true passion for our industry and its future leaders,” said Lance Trenary, President and CEO of Golden Corral Corporation. “He represents all that this award was created to recognize, and I’m excited that we’re able to honor his efforts.”

The James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year award was presented on May 8 in Washington, D.C., as part of the Foundation’s ProStart National Educator of Excellence Awards (EEA) during the 2022 National ProStart Invitational. With support from Golden Corral, the annual awards recognize educators who demonstrate excellence in the classroom, as well as passion, commitment and creativity in all aspects of the ProStart program to help their students make the most of the opportunities that ProStart offers. In addition to recognizing Rengstorf, three select educators were also honored and received $3,500 for their excellence in the following categories:

  • Classroom Expertise: Stephanie Kunkel, an educator at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio
  • Best Practice/Knowledge Sharing: Dominic Hawkes, an educator at Lancaster County School District Career Center in Lancaster, South Carolina
  • Industry Connection: Daniel Wagner, an educator at Greene County Career & Technology Center in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Nearly 400 students converged on the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., on May 6–8 to put their skills to the test in front of culinary and restaurant business leaders, family and friends at the 2022 National ProStart Invitational. The three-day event featured an opening ceremony, two days of powerful culinary and restaurant management competition and an awards dinner. The top five teams from the culinary and management competitions earned more than $200,000 in coveted scholarships to continue their restaurant or foodservice education.

A program of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), ProStart is a two-year technical education program found at more than 1,750 high schools and career and technical educational centers nationwide, teaching culinary techniques and restaurant management skills that build a lifetime foundation and support future careers in the restaurant industry. With 145,000 students enrolled across all states, the District of Columbia and Guam, the program teaches students through a combination of classroom and industry instruction.


About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation: As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) mission of service to the public is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower and Advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. NRAEF programs include: ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide “opportunity youth” with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and the Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) – accredited apprenticeship programs designed to build the careers of service professionals. For more information on the NRAEF, visit ChooseRestaurants.org.

Click here for the NRAEF 2021 Annual Impact Report


Hannah Oliver
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

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