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Minnesota Students Claim ProStart Invite Honors

Elk River’s first place culinary team celebrates the fourth straight win for the school.

It was a day not just of repeat honors, but four-peat ones as teams from Elk River and Sauk Rapids-Rice high schools again took first place in their respective culinary and management competitions during the 11th annual ProStart Invitational, sponsored by the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation and Sysco Minnesota. 

With an hour to prepare a three-course meal, Elk River students impressed the judges March 9 with their sautéed sea scallops starter, an entrée of pan-seared Minnesota beef tenderloin, and a delicate goat cheese panna cotta using cheese from Minnesota’s Stickney Hill Dairy for dessert. Team members include Lizzie Holby, Kailey Johnson, Dan Loram, Mark Swann and alternate Drea Westgaard; instructor Monique Sabby coaches the team.

In the management competition, students develop a proposal for an original restaurant concept and are judged on menu/costing, operations, marketing and critical thinking, as well as the overall concept. Coached by Mary Levinski, the Sauk Rapids-Rice team of Maddie Adamski, Sawyer Amo, Emma Ditlevson and Daighton Ripp won for their Kushiyaki Grille concept.

For the fourth straight year, both teams advance to the National ProStart Invitational later this month in Charleston, South Carolina.

Placing second in the culinary competition was the team of Maggie Clink, Hawa Doucoure, Derek Dugas, Brody Snyder and alternate Djene Kaba from Park Center High School. Their menu included a Lake Superior smoked trout cake starter, beef tenderloin and foie gras entrée, and pizzelle napoleon for dessert. The team of Maddie Adamski, Alyssa Handeland, Daighton Ripp, Rachel Taszarek and alternate Cassidy Kulo from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School placed third.

The management team of students Katie Borel, Ellie Cargill, Keenan Johnson, Mambo Ndingway and alternate Michael Mittelstaedt from Rogers High School took second place for their Mambo’s restaurant concept. Placing third was the team from Indus School represented by Jonah Mathis, Emma Morgan, Grace Shelton and Wes Shelton. 

More than 40 chefs, restaurateurs and culinary instructors volunteered their time as judges, including those from Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Blue Plate Restaurant Company, Grand View Lodge, Grand Casino, Radisson Blu Minneapolis, North Oaks Golf Club, Saint Paul College, Morrissey Hospitality, The Art Institutes International Minnesota and Sysco Minnesota. 

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