Boulder High School Pro-Start Team

Hello My Lovelies!

Today, I find my heart warmed and inspired!

I must share with you my experience working with Boulder High School’s catering instructor Jean Lange, fellow chef mentor Chef Ben Keesler (Giam and Via Toscana) and the Boulder High School Pro-Start program.

What is ProStart, you might ask? ProStart is a national career-building program for high school students that pairs culinary educators with restaurant industry professionals to teach real-world skills. We work together, after school once a week to teach culinary and hospitality management skills.Eventually, a menu is created and a team of four of the students is chosen to practice and train to prepare for the a big competition in late winter.

This year’s competition will be a match between 29 Colorado high school teams. You might equate it to a culinary olympics of sorts. The teams have 15 minutes to arrange their mis en place. The meal has to be cooked on only two butane burners, plated and presented to judges within 60 minutes. No electrical or battery operated, time or labor-saving devices are permitted. Organization, safety and sanitation, communication in addition to some well-honed knife skills are a must. These kids also have to source and cost their menus with a keen attention to portion control. All this has to be artfully arranged and incorporated into two plates each of a delicious appetizer,  a tasty entree and a delectable dessert.

The Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Sysco Foods helps to sponsor the yearly event in downtown Denver at Johnson & Wales University. This year, the competition takes place this coming Friday March 1, 2013.  There will be more than 250 ProStart students from from 29 high schools across Colorado competing in the 14th Annual ProStart Student Invitational & Sysco Denver Hospitality Cup Competition. They will demonstrate their mastery of culinary and academic skills achieved from their studies and working with industry. These teams will compete for more than $500,000 in scholarships!!! That’s not small potatoes!

The competition consists of both a Culinary Competition and Hospitality Management Competition. The school that accumulates the most points at the end of the contest will take home the “Sysco Denver Hospitality Cup.” The winning teams from the state competition will represent Colorado ProStart at the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore, Maryland from April 19-21, 2013.

Boulder High School is one of three BVSD high schools that currently have this additional after-school opportunity as a part of the culinary and catering curriculum thanks to the tireless efforts of Mrs. Jean Lange. Jean asked Chef Ben Keesler and myself to help mentor these kids as “the restaurant industry professionals”. Ben has worked with the kids on the appetizer and entree and I am helping with the dessert. Jean does all the rest which includes working with the kids on the academics side of this competition and all the fund-raising that is involved to ensure that we actually make it to the competition. It has been challenging at times but, I think the three of us would all agree, it has bee a very rewarding experience.

We have been planning, practicing, training, and timing since January with our final four students.

Go Boulder High ProStart team!

Our amazing and talented team consists of Eric Stern (entree), Anna Cutler(dessert), Xee Her (appetizer),  Dakotah Fozzard (entree & dessert) .

If you would like to see our team in action, the next link will take you to our Piece, Love & Chocolate Facebook Album showcasing our culinary adventures. We will be adding to this from time to time – so please check in:

Next Friday, March 1st, is the big day for us!  Our team takes the stage at ‘kitchen stadium’ in Denver at 12:00. Wish us luck!

As for winning… I think we already have!

A big heartfelt thank-you to the parents of these amazing kids, Jean (my hero), and Ben for asking and allowing me to be a part of this amazing adventure!

Hugs, Sarah



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