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Delaware high school students test their cooking, management skills

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Educators Ralph Freeman and David Lattomus with 1st Place Management Team from St. George’s Vo-Tech (students: Lauren Powers, Megan Montgomery, Adrianna Harris and Shaniyah Thomas) 1st Place Culinary Team from Caesar Rodeny High School (students: Kianna Burgos, Amy Wong, Ziare Williams, Julia Bryant and Morgan Fitzhugh) with Educator Riki Senn


Over 100 Delaware high school students gathered inside the Chase Center on the Riverfront on March 1 to test their mettle in the kitchen or restaurant management skills.

The 7th Annual Delaware ProStart® Student Invitational featured 17 culinary and management teams from 14 high schools across the state. The Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (DRAEF) hosted the competition.

Caesar Rodney High School won first place for the culinary competition, and St. George’s Vocational-Technical School won first place in the management competition.

“This competition gives students the opportunity to bring to life the culinary and management skills they have gained through the ProStart® program,” said Carrie Leishman, president & CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association. “These students have spent countless hours throughout the academic year with their educators and mentors, preparing for this event. It’s a day of fierce competition, but also learning, life experience and camaraderie. We couldn’t be more proud of these students and the lifelong skills they are building in this program.”

The management competition challenged students to demonstrate their ability to develop a restaurant proposal, deliver a verbal presentation and apply critical thinking skills to day-to-day operations.

Caesar Rodney Winning Appetizer – Oysters Chesapeake (local Chesapeake oysters roasted and topped with crab imperial and Baywater Farms microgreens)


The culinary competition challenged young chefs to demonstrate their creative abilities and culinary skills through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners. A panel of leading industry experts judged both competitions.

“I attended the event and it was clear that the students were well prepared and that the judges were impressed with the skills that all the students brought to the table,” said Delaware Business Times Editor Peter Osborne. “During the management competition, the judges asked tough questions and the students had good answers.  And during the Culinary judging, the judges expressed their admiration for the quality of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts in what was challenging circumstances: no running water, no electricity (which meant no refrigeration), and two Bunson burners that worked differently than the ones they had back at school.” It was all very impressive.”

Winning teams will travel to Washington, D.C. May 3-5 to compete against teams from across the country at the National ProStart® Invitational, hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. They’re competing for $2.5 million in available scholarships to post-secondary colleges and universities.

For more on the ProStart competition, check out Peter Osborne’s Editor’s Notebook in the March 19 issue of the Delaware Business Times.

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