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Stars of the Future Event Showcases Young Talent

On Sunday evening, December 4, instead of hockey practice or prepping for tests, students from nine area high schools were wielding tweezers, blow torches and squeeze bottles with scratch sauces to finish their small-plate creations. The event was Stars of the Future, a small-plate tasting fundraiser for Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation’s ProStart program held at the W Hotel in Minneapolis.

With each of the nine demonstration stations throughout the space came a team of high-school students enrolled in the ProStart culinary program. They had, weeks before, been paired with a local chef to mentor them from concept to execution for this benefit.

With the help of chefs such as Rick Van Doeren from Murray’s Restaurant and Sam Rose of Morrissey Culinary Group, students were cranking out edgy dishes with expert assembly. For instance, students from Park Center High School worked with Chef David Jones of North Oaks Country Club to present Mexican Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta, which was brûléed a la minute.

Students dressed in chef whites and toques were visibly excited to interact with attendees, offering detailed descriptions of menu items and preparations while working together for a common goal. Most of the students have plans for college, but a handful of them hope to pursue options in the culinary world. Through ProStart, students will leave high school with two years of experience in a career building culinary program.

ProStart is a national organization. The featured event for the year is always the annual ProStart Invitational competition, where the winning ProStart teams from each state compete for national scholarships and awards. HMEF conceived Stars of the Future after members noticed a need for additional support for the competing students.

“The fundraiser started in 2011 when we discovered that students who won [Minnesota’s] ProStart cooking competition had to go out and do bake sales and other fundraisers to have enough money to go to nationals,” said Dan McElroy, president of Hospitality Minnesota. “Some of our members said, ‘Let’s do a fundraiser!’”

In its sixth year, the benefit raised nearly $9,000 in two hours. The Living Room at the W Hotel was flush with people enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine while making bids on silent auction items such as Minnesota Wild and Timberwolves tickets, along with resort and golf packages. The event also offered networking opportunities for students with sponsor representatives from Cargill, US Foods, Parasole and Reinhart.

Proceeds from Stars of the Future will cover expenses surrounding Minnesota ProStart winners’ travel and participation the 2017 National ProStart Invitational in Charleston, South Carolina.

“ProStart is awesome,” said Emily Wyse Moore, Minnesota ProStart’s Teacher of the Year. “These students want hands-on training … or something they can apply right away at their jobs. It doesn’t matter to me if they go into culinary arts. It’s about them being a successful person, and through this program, food is the vehicle to teach it all.”

Photos by Danielle McFarland 

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