Thursday, May 9, 2013


"I want to change the world with the power of food.  My mother always told me, 'Cooking is a pathway to the soul' and I know it ignites a fire inside me!"  Florida student Dallas Wynne is just one of 95,000 enthusiastic students involved in the ProStart program run by the philanthropic arm of the National Restaurant Association.  Every ProStart student is given the opportunity to learn, sharpen and hone their personal culinary skills. 
Students can also stretch themselves by being matched in mentor-apprenticeships or diving into regional, state and national competitions.

My ProStart involvement came through their annual national competition.  I was privileged to join the ranks of several other industry professionals to help judge the finals in Baltimore, Maryland.  The national competition was open to several teams from 43 states and territories.  Students were asked to display their talents in one of two venues - culinary or management.  When it was all said and done, winning teams took home $1.4 million in scholarship funds.

Top winners included Guam's Simon Sanchez High School for culinary and Wisconsin's Badger High School for management.  Throughout the competition I was in awe of the kind of young talent that was present.  I saw some very good to exceptional culinary skills being played out - skills I definitely lacked when I was in high school.  At that time, no one was pressing kids to cook professionally.  It's really terrific to be a witness to the current change of landscape.  The view is much better here this side of the road.