Winners in culinary and management divisions win more than $600,000 in scholarships
Charlotte, N.C. (March 18, 2022) The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA), the voice of North Carolina’s $23 billion restaurant, foodservice and lodging industry announced that South Mecklenburg High School swept the first-place finishes* at the 2022 North Carolina ProStart Invitational (NCPI), presented by Golden Corral. NCPI is a high-stakes culinary arts and restaurant management competition organized by the association’s philanthropic arm, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) Foundation.
Returning after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams from five high schools across the state competed in culinary and management competitions on Friday at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte for the 2022 NCPI. South Mecklenburg High School took first in both divisions, receiving $185,500 in scholarships amongst their seven students. These students will go on to represent North Carolina against other qualifying teams from across the country for a chance to win the national title at the National ProStart Invitational at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC on May 6-8.
“In spite of all the challenges we’ve all faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 2 years, I am truly in awe of the creativity, talent, and determination I witnessed today. The future of hospitality is, indeed, bright. And all of these students are a big part of the reason why,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of NCRLA and NCRLA Foundation.
Students from South Mecklenburg, Asheville, Ashe County, and Eastern NC Regional Skill Center entered the culinary competition where they had to design, prepare, and serve a three-course meal (starter, entrée with vegetable/starch, and dessert) using only two butane burners in 60 minutes. Judged by a panel of certified chefs using industry standards, the teams prepared a gourmet meal without electricity, running water, or outside assistance. The winning team’s menu consisted of olive tapenade deviled egg with lox, seared steak with chimichurri sauce, and doughnuts with mascarpone Chantilly cream and lemon curd.
The other division of the competition, the management competition, required students to prepare and present a restaurant concept, menu, and marketing plan to an exclusive panel of judges. Students from South Mecklenburg, Eastern NC Regional Skills Center, and Smithfield-Selma High School presented their ideas and participated in an intense question and answer segment. Ny’Tavia Arrington and Tanagia McFadden of South Mecklenburg won first place in this competition, with their winning idea, Kick’in Creole, a mobile food truck offering creole-soul, styled food with a healthy flare.
“Golden Corral knows from experience that ProStart develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. By bringing industry and classroom together, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers,” said Shelley Wolford, Chief People Officer at Golden Corral.
* Update as of April 6, 2022. In the culinary competition, a technical error was made on the Asheville High School culinary team’s timesheet, resulting in second place finish. After reviewing the scoresheets and timesheets, NCRLA has corrected the error and there is now a tie for first place in the culinary competition. Asheville High School and South Mecklenburg High School are both the winners for the culinary portion of NCPI.
NCRLA apologizes for this error and is working with the students from both high schools to correct this matter. The graduating Asheville High School students will have their scholarship amounts increased for the upcoming academic year.
The South Mecklenburg High School culinary and management teams will still go on to represent North Carolina against other qualifying teams from across the country for a chance to win the national title at the National ProStart Invitational at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC on May 6-8.
2022 NCPI Culinary Winners
First place: South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte and Asheville High School, Asheville
Third place: Ashe County High School, West Jefferson
2022 NCPI Management Winners
First place: South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
Second place: Eastern NC Regional Skills Center, Jacksonville
Third place: Smithfield Selma High School, Smithfield
ProStart – the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s two-year culinary program for high school students reaches more than 130,000 students in 1,700 high schools the country. North Carolina’s ProStart program is run by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association Foundation (NCRLF) and the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, and provides high school and college academic credit, scholarships, and paid work experience opportunities for students.