2021 Pennsylvania ProStart Virtual Invitational

    The Pennsylvania ProStart Invitational was held virtually in 2021, with 38 students from eight secondary schools across Pennsylvania putting their skills to the test in culinary arts and restaurant management competitions. All of the student competitors rose to the challenge of this year’s virtual format, and we thank teachers, school districts, volunteer judges, and sponsors for helping to make it happen.

    For the culinary competition, teams were tasked with developing a three-course meal—submitting a written proposal complete with recipes, costing, a production timeline, and more, as well as submitting a video of the team preparing and presenting their meal in their school’s kitchen. Teams participated in a virtual feedback session with a panel of industry judges.

    For the management competition, teams prepared a business proposal for a unique restaurant concept, including marketing, menu development and costing, operations plan, and more. Teams presented their concepts via video conference to a panel of industry judges, and responded to critical thinking questions about real life operational issues that restaurant owners can face.

    The schools participating in this year’s competition were:

    • Central Westmoreland Career & Technology Center (New Stanton)
    • Crawford County Career & Technical Center (Meadville)
    • Eastern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center (Latrobe)
    • Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center (Johnstown)
    • Greene County Career & Technology Center (Waynesburg)
    • Octorara High School (Atglen)
    • Milton Hershey School (Hershey)
    • Northumberland County Career & Technology Center (Coal Township)

    Pennsylvania ProStart Coordinator Hope Sterner announced the competition results via video on May 5, 2021, saying, “I would like to thank all of the student teams and educators for taking the challenge to compete virtually. I know it wasn’t easy, but the efforts that you put forward really paid off. All rose to the occasion, and presented great concepts, menus, and plates for the judges to review.”

    Culinary Competition

    1st place
    Milton Hershey School

    2nd place
    Northumberland County Career & Technology Center

    3rd place
    Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center

    Taking first place was Milton Hershey School with a menu of seared scallops with herbed tomato cream sauce and a marinated zucchini-apple salad, spiraled pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach and mushrooms served with a sweet potato mash, and ruffled milk pie for dessert. Second place Northumberland County CTC also utilized seared scallops in their appetizer, accompanied by a fresh apple salad, in addition to beef wellington with green beans almondine, and lemon curd served over shortbread with raspberry coulis for dessert. Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center made an impression on the judges with their whipped firecracker chicken atop a bed of coconut sticky rice, tuxedo tuna with roasted beets, caramelized onions, and pecans, and an Asian-inspired “Baklava” made of coconut toffee and walnut crumbles finished with a matcha syrup.

    Management Competition

    1st place
    Milton Hershey School

    2nd place
    Crawford County Career & Technical Center

    3rd place
    Central Westmoreland Career & Technology Center

    First place Milton Hershey School dreamed up the “Grand Slam Van,” a food truck serving healthy alternatives to classic ballpark foods at local sporting events and on-site catering events. Menu items include cauliflower pizza and sweet potato fries, and the food truck sources local meat, dairy, and produce. Second place Crawford County Career and Technical Center created “The Last Supper,” an Italian Renaissance themed restaurant named after the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. The restaurant offers period-appropriate design and costumed staff, serving cuisine including cod piccata and bread and cheese boards. Third place team Central Westmoreland CTC developed the concept for “Blast From The Past,” a vintage-themed 24-hour diner with menu items including old-fashioned griddle cakes and build-your-own milkshakes.

    Winning team members earned scholarship opportunities at the following post-secondary schools across the county:

    • The Culinary Institute of America
    • IUP Culinary Arts
    • Keystone College
    • Louisiana Culinary Institute
    • Pittsburgh Technical College
    • Sullivan University
    • VA Culinary Institute
    • Walnut Hill College
    • Westmoreland Community College

    Thank you to our generous sponsors for their support of this year’s competition:

    • Curtze Food Service
    • Ecolab
    • Gordon Food Service
    • The Hershey Company
    • Marriott International
    • Red Robin – Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group •

    The 2022 Pennsylvania ProStart Student Competition is scheduled for February 23, 2022, at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.