95 Oregon High School Prostart Culinary Students Compete for $180,000 in Scholarships and a Spot in National Invitational Tournament

Education Foundation for Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Hosts Statewide Event to Showcase the Industry's Future Workforce

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ProStart Student Chef at 2013 Championships

“We are committed to providing education and training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant/lodging/travel industry,” says Wendy Popkin, Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Portland, OR (PRWEB) February 17, 2014

The pressure is on. Using only two butane burners and without access to running water or electricity, 95 students from 19 high schools throughout Oregon will prepare a three-course gourmet meal in 60 minutes. They’re on a quest to win the ProStart® Culinary High School Championship hosted by the Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Sunday, March 2, at the Red Lion Hotel on the River / Portland, Jantzen Beach.

Coached by teachers and professional chefs, the Oregon ProStart teams will demonstrate their mastery of culinary and teamwork skills in seven categories of fast-paced competition as they vie for their share of $180,000 in scholarships and prizes. Teams are evaluated on taste, presentation, knife skills, and teamwork, among other skills. The first-place team in each category will be crowned state champions and represent Oregon at the National ProStart Invitational, the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts, May 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The championship event in Portland is free to the public, with heats starting at 9:00 am running through 1:00 p.m. The winners will be announced at 5:00 p.m. Follow the Oregon conversation at #ORProStart and nationally, #ProStartState2014. View attached document for a list of Oregon schools competing in this year's event.

“We are committed to providing education and training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant/lodging/travel industry. Employment opportunities are significant and, in fact, the industry contributed $3.4 billion to Oregon’s Gross Domestic Product in 2012 and provided over 91,000 jobs for its citizens,” said Wendy Popkin, executive director of the Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLAEF). “The ProStart program teaches high school students the culinary and management skills needed by the nation’s restaurant, hospitality and foodservice employers and supports teachers in this career and technical education-oriented focus. The state competition is the capstone of the two-year program and provides a public opportunity for students to showcase what they have learned.”

Currently 37 Oregon schools, with more than 3,000 students participate in the ProStart training program. Nationally, ProStart is taught in more than 1,900 schools across 48 states, Guam and U.S. military bases. This school year alone, over 95,000 students are enrolled.

“Thanks to the dedication and leadership of the Education Foundation for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, the state’s ProStart program is part of a national movement to empower students with the training and opportunities they need to achieve fulfilling, lifelong careers,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of philanthropic initiatives for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.”

About the Education Foundation of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association:
As the philanthropic foundation of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, ORLAEF supports and promotes diverse career, educational, and public service opportunities within the hospitality industry to create a vibrant industry that contributes to Oregon’s economic livelihood and its citizens’ quality of life. Oregon’s restaurant and foodservice industry is comprised of over 10,500 foodservice locations and has a total economic impact of $6.2 billion - making it the cornerstone of the economy and one of the state’s largest employers.