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Caesar Rodney & Cape Henlopen High School students win state culinary award

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DOVER – The 10th Annual Delaware ProStart® Student Invitational included over 150 ProStart® competitors from Delaware high schools on Friday, March 10. A record-breaking 25 culinary and management teams competed in the statewide competition, which was coordinated by the Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (DRAEF). The teams were evaluated on their ability to work as a team, their culinary knowledge, and their managerial abilities in the restaurant business. In the culinary competition, students from Caesar Rodney High School won first place, while in the management competition, students from Cape Henlopen High School won first place.

The winning teams from Delaware will both compete in the National ProStart Student Invitational in May in Washington, D.C. The culinary team from Caesar Rodney High School returns to the National Invitational after winning the nationwide 1st place culinary title in May, 2022.

Teams compete in the Delaware Invitational for state accolades, the opportunity to represent Delaware at the National Student Invitational, customised prize packages, and more than $2.5 million in potential scholarships to the champions in the first, second, and third place categories. This year’s event also included a “Chopped”-style throwdown competition, organised by the event sponsor Delaware Army National Guard and including MRE rations as hidden basket components for extra culinary teams.

Culinary Competition
1st Place – Caesar Rodney High School
2nd Place – Thomas McKean High School
3rd Place – Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School

Management Competition
1st Place – Cape Henlopen High School
2nd Place – Odessa High School – Team B
3rd Place – Laurel High School

Delaware Army National Guard MRE Challenge
1st Place – Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School

Teams in the management competition demonstrate their knowledge of the industry by developing a restaurant proposal, delivering a verbal presentation, and applying critical thinking skills to answer judge’s questions regarding challenges in day-to-day operations. Teams participating in the culinary competition demonstrate their creative abilities and culinary skills through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners. The performance of teams in both the management and culinary competitions are judged by a panel of leading industry experts.

This annual competition also brought together students and educators to Bally’s Dover Casino Resort with Royal Prime Events the night before the event for culinary product check-in and a special “Champions Night Out” roster of activities – this year featuring a panel presentation and Q&A with local celebrity chefs.

DE Celebrity Chef Panel:

  • Robbie Jester – Pizzeria Mariana & In Jest Events, featured on Netflix’s Pressure Cooker
  • Kip Poole – Former Delaware ProStart Educator, Founder of The Crop Foundation, featured on HBO Max’s The Big Brunch
    Dru Tevis – Corporate Pastry Chef, SoDel Concepts, featured on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship
  • Hari Cameron – Owner/Partner at Grandpa (MAC), HC Culinary & Consulting, featured on Netflix’s Snack vs. Chef
  • Ed Porter – Moderator, featured on Netflix’s Pressure Cooker


Students then spent the night at the Bally’s hotel, and began the competition early the next day. A team of more than 100 industry leaders and volunteers serve as timers, judges, and mentors to the student teams. A college, career, resource, and military expo is also available to competing and visiting students to explore, with over 25 booths, raffle prizes, and a station for team and individual headshots with a professional photographer. This year Governor Carney and Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen attended the competition to speak directly with ProStart students and event attendees.

The Delaware ProStart Invitational is sponsored and presented by the Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Delaware Department of Education, Ecolab, Two Stones Pub, Bing’s Bakery, Caffe Gelato, Grotto Pizza, Hakuna Hospitality Group, Ashby Hospitality Group, Royal Prime Events, Del-One Federal Credit Union, High 5 Hospitality, Sherm’s Catering, Project Kudo’s by Schell Brothers, 1776 Steakhouse, Buckley’s Tavern, High 5 Hospitality Group, and the WSFS Cares Foundation.

Nationwide, more than 180,000 students are served by ProStart®, a two-year program supported by the NRAEF and state restaurant associations across the country. The career-building program blends classroom learning with mentored work experience to teach high school students the management and culinary skills needed for entry into the workforce or continuing their postsecondary education.

For more information on the ProStart® program, and both the Delaware and National ProStart Student Invitational, please visit chooserestaurants.org/prostart and www.delawarerestaurant.org/Education-Foundation.

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