Durham N.C. (March 22, 2023) – The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA), the voice of North Carolina’s $30 billion restaurant and lodging industry, yesterday announced that Independence High School won the culinary competition and Asheville High School won the management competition at the 2023 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, North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association Education Foundation. The event took place March 19 – 21 at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
This year, students from 14 teams from 9 schools put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, family, and friends with the hopes of earning more than $560,000 in scholarships.
“As North Carolina’s hospitality industry continues to struggle with labor shortages, ProStart students are learning transferable skills that they can take anywhere once they complete the program,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of NCRLA and NCRLA Foundation. “These students are the best of the best, and I am proud to send them on to compete at the national level.”
The winners 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 2 – 4.
The following teams competed in the management and culinary divisions of the competition.
2023 NCPI Winning Culinary Teams
- First Place: Independence High School, Charlotte
- Second Place: Ashe County High School, West Jefferson
- Third Place: South Mecklenburg, Charlotte
Other Competing Culinary Teams:
- Asheville High School, Asheville
- Cary High School, Cary
- East Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
- Garinger High School, Charlotte
- West Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
2023 NCPI Winning Management Teams
- First Place: Asheville High School, Asheville
- Second Place: South Mecklenburg, Charlotte
- Third Place: Cary High School, Cary
Other Competing Management Teams:
- Ashe County High School, West Jefferson
- East Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
- Wakefield High School, Raleigh
Students in the culinary competition 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 fried green tomato, pan seared kanpachi, and steamed chocolate cake.
Students in the management competition, had to prepare and present a restaurant concept, menu, and marketing plan to an exclusive panel of judges. Students presented their ideas and participated in an intense question and answer segment. Asheville High School took first place in this competition, with their winning Mediterranean concept, Herbaceous.
In addition to student recognition this year, NCRLA nominated Sara Monson from Asheville High School for ProStart’s national Educator of Excellence Award. The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation ProStart National Educator of Excellence Awards (EEA) recognize educators who demonstrate excellence in the classroom and passion, commitment and creativity in all aspects of the ProStart program to help their students make the most of the opportunities that ProStart offers.
Ms. Monson will be recognized amongst her peers from other participating state ProStart programs and one of them will be named the EEA James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year. Established over a decade ago as a tribute to Golden Corral’s founder, James Maynard, the award honors one EEA winner for their tireless dedication to providing remarkable experiences to their ProStart students. The annual honoree receives a gift of $10,000.
“Golden Corral knows that it’s never been more important to provide high school students with the opportunity to discover new interests and get hands-on training in the hospitality industry,” said Lance Trenary, President & CEO of Golden Corral Corporation. “By bringing the industry and classroom together, the ProStart competition gives students the opportunity to make lifelong connections and develop skills that will help them be more successful. It is inspiring to see the impact that ProStart has on these future leaders of our industry.”
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. It all happens through a curriculum that teaches all facets of the restaurant and foodservice industry, inspires students to succeed, and sets a high standard of excellence for students and the industry.
The ProStart program is used in more than 1,800 high schools in 50 states, Guam, and on U.S. military bases, reaching nearly 165,000 secondary students annually. Many post-secondary schools in the nation recognize ProStart’s Certificate of Achievement, which is awarded to students who complete both levels of the program and at least 400 hours of work experience and reward them with credit toward their degree programs.