Waukee High School ProStart Team Finishes 2nd at Iowa ProStart Invitational

Waukee High School’s (WHS) culinary ProStart team was named runner-up for the third year in a row at the 2017 Iowa ProStart Invitational at the Iowa Events Center on March 1. The event was hosted by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation.Waukee 2nd Place Culinary 1

ProStart is a two-year, nationwide educational program developing high school students into leaders. The program includes national certification exams, grants post-secondary credits and an industry recognized credential. Since WHS ProStart is a premier program, meaning we utilize the Foundations of Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts curriculum entirely, they were able to choose whether or not to compete at the state competition.

“From 2011 to 2017, the number of Iowa high schools offering the ProStart program to students has grown from three to 24, and future plans expect many more,” said the Iowa Restaurant Association. “Since 1997, ProStart has grown from 100 students to over 95,000 students nationwide.”

Waukee’s team was made up of six seniors: Grace Buck, Sarah Eliason, Luke Scantlin, Riley Gibbons and Kellan Prendergast- taught by culinary instructor, Laura Calvert.

The competition was a “Top Chef” style competition, meaning 11 culinary teams from across the state were each given an hour to create a three-course meal for a panel of culinary professional judges. Using only two butane burners the team prepared:

  • Tomato Zucchini Crostini appetizer- a toasted baguette topped with a multi-textured zesty zucchini tomato salad with a Parmigiano-Reggiano mascarpone cheese spread and a crispy prosciutto slice.
  • Herb Poached Beef Tenderloin entree- a thyme, basil and oregano perfect medium rare beef tenderloin topped with a pepper cream sauce. Accompanied by glazed rainbow carrots and mashed Boursin red-skinned potatoes.
  • Blackberry Sabayon dessert- a decadent French custard with macerated blackberries topped with whipped cream, fresh lemon zest and a mint leaf garnish.

In preparation for the State competition, the students practiced for about a month long, five days a week for two hours a day. Each team was judged on cooking techniques, knife skills, sanitation and teamwork.

“I am very proud of my culinary team. They worked great together and gave it their all. It was truly a spectacular team effort by everyone,” said Calvert. “My hopes for next year is to compete at an even higher level than this year. Success comes in all forms. Winning is bittersweet, but the learning process is the ultimate prize.”