Two Boston public high schools took home top honors recently in a competition showcasing the talent of young, aspiring chefs. Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury, MA and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School scored first place wins in the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Massachusetts ProStart Student Invitational.
The award was given in two areas – culinary and management skills. Madison Park took top honors in culinary while Whittier starred in management. Both head next to participate in the National ProStart Invitational, held in Dallas, TX April 29 – May 1. In addition to moving on to represent Massachusetts in the National Competition, the first, second and third place finishers were awarded more than $90,000 in scholarship funds in support of their culinary aspirations.
Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, calls the competition “exciting from the start.” Both winning teams, he observes, were competitive and worked very hard. In addition, he notes, Madison Park was taking part for the first time in the ProStart event. “It is very rare for schools in their first year to even compete, never mind take home the gold,” he points out. “The entire City of Boston should be proud to honor Madison Park, the first Boston school to join and compete in ProStart.”
Other winners were Greater Lowell Technical High School, Lowell, MA, second place in Management and Tri-Country Regional Vocational Technical High School, Franklin, MA, third, and Whittier Regional, second place in Culinary. Taking third place in the Culinary competition was Tri-Country Regional.
The event at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall was an all-day affair with a live audience and representatives from colleges and universities from across the U.S. The culinary students had to show their knife skills prior to starting to prepare the three-course meal in one hour. Each culinary team was involved in creating the recipes, as well as costing and menu pricing. On the management side, teams were required to develop a new restaurant concept proposal that included defining the concept, developing the menu and creating a marketing plan which included a written proposal, verbal presentation and the visual display.
Judging the competition were well-known chefs and restaurateurs from around the state. Taking part were Boston’s Andy Husbands, chef-ower, Tremont 647 in Boston’s South End, Nick Calias, executive chef, Brasserie Jo and the Colonnade Hotel, Boston, Jose Duarte, chef-owner of Taranta Restaurant in the city’s North End, Remon Karian, owner and president, Fiorella’s, Newtonville, MA and Pat Bando, associate vice president of Boston College Auxiliary Services.
At the Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation, Director Stacy Sawyer observes that the students worked “incredibly hard preparing for the PSI. The students and teachers spend many hours practicing, including after school, on weekends and during school vacations. We are very proud of all of our schools competing and are so happy for Madison Park and Whittier.”
In the culinary competition, Whittier also finished second with Tri-County Regional (Franklin) finishing third, while on the Management side Greater Lowell Vocational School finished second and Tri-County Regional came in third.
At the National Pro-Start competition, 47 culinary teams and 43 management teams will take part in the finals this year. The competition now takes part in all 50 states, focusing on teaching the fundamentals of culinary arts and management skills to high school students interested in entering the field.
BOSTON – Two area high schools shared top honors recently in the Massachusetts Restaurant Educational Foundation’s Massachusetts ProStart Student Invitational, an event that annually showcases the talents of young aspiring chefs and restaurateurs.