WHS Places 2nd in High School ProStart Competition

Waukee High School’s ProStart team received second place in the management competition at the High School ProStart competition. 14 teams of aspiring chefs came together to compete in the annual competition to see who would land the top three honors in the culinary and management competitions.

“It’s like ‘Top Chef’ in the morning for the culinary teams and ‘Shark Tank’ style in the afternoon where hospitality management students create their own restaurant concept and pitch it to a team of industry professionals,” said May Schaben, the executive director of the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

The competition, which is sponsored and hosted by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation, tests the students’ ability to apply what they’ve learned in their culinary classes and their ability to work together as a team.

“Winning second place was a really great opportunity for us as we all worked hard, and the fact that our hard work translated was very rewarding,” senior Amon O’Connell said. “We definitely became closer as a group as we were competing and it’s great to get recognition for the time we put into the competition.”

The ProStart program at Waukee High School is headed by Family Consumer Science teacher Laura Calvet and reflects the curriculum of the national ProStart program, which helps transition students from high school to the restaurant industry.

“I loved the program and Ms. Calvert is amazing,” senior Jake Senne said. “She honestly is one of my favorite teachers because she makes you get your work done while having fun.”

For the culinary round of the ProStart competition, Waukee High School ProStart was required to prepare a starter, an entree and a dessert for the judges. Their presentation consisted of a shrimp ceviche, a sirloin matambre and coconut mousse.

“ProStart has taught me the basics of how to actually cook along with techniques to use to enhance the overall product of my food,” Senne said.

ProStart students must first pass level one and two exams and complete 400 hours of mentored work experience in order to receive their work certificate. Students can retrieve several credit hours from colleges thanks to the ProStart program certification.

“Even though I may not be going into the restaurant business, it has taught me valuable skills in not only cooking but in money management and other responsibilities,” O’Connell said.  “Everyone is basically family. I loved coming to class everyday, cooking and sharing ideas with my classmates.”