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New Mexico High School Students Excel at the New Mexico ProStart Invitational
Gadsden High and Cloudcroft High students advance to the National ProStart Invitational

(Albuquerque, NM) The Hospitality Industry Education Foundation announced today that it will be sending a culinary team from Gadsden High and a management team from Cloudcroft High to compete in the 12th Annual National ProStart Invitational. The teams will compete against 40 other qualifying teams from across the country for a chance to win the national title April 19-21, 2013, at the Baltimore Marriott in Baltimore, Maryland.   At the national competition, hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the top five teams from both the culinary and management competitions will be awarded scholarships to pursue a college education.

“ProStart is developing the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders.  These students have proven their mettle in the New Mexico ProStart Invitational and have the full support of the New Mexico restaurant industry as they move forward,” said Victoria Martinez, Executive Director, Hospitality Industry Education Foundation.  “ProStart gives students a sense of purpose and helps them feel passionate about their own future – which will be on full display when the students represent New Mexico in the National ProStart Invitational.”

The culinary and management teams will be accompanied by their educators, Shari Anderson and Joni Watson, respectively.  Culinary team members include Daniel Pena, Sergio Morales, Olivia Urena, Myriam Lopez and Stephanie Antunez. Management team members include Stephanie O’Conner, Cole Scott, Cassy Morales.


NMPI 2013 Cloudcroft NMPI 2013 Cloudcroft
First Place Culinary Team from Gadsden High First Place Management Team from Cloudcroft High


ProStart – the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s proven, high-impact program for high school students – reaches more than 90,000 students in 1,700 high schools across 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and U.S. military bases. It introduces them to the career opportunities available in the restaurant and foodservice industry, and teaches them the restaurant management and culinary arts skills needed to launch their futures.  In New Mexico, over 1,800 students in 35 schools are served by ProStart and supported by the Hospitality Industry Education of the New Mexico Restaurant Association.

“ProStart opens door to rewarding restaurant industry careers for tens of thousands of students each year and provides a platform for students to develop their passion for restaurant management and the culinary arts,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.  “These students’ considerable skills and talents are demonstrated at the National ProStart Invitational. We congratulate Gadsden High and Cloudcroft High on their success and wish them great success at the 12th annual National ProStart Invitational.”

To qualify for the national competition, students first had to win the New Mexico ProStart Invitational. The event was hosted by Ben E. Keith during their annual food show on March 27, 2013. Over $550,000 in scholarships were awarded to the first, second, and third place winning teams by The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes, Johnson and Wales University, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute, and Sullivan University. Sandia High and Clovis High took second and third in the culinary competition. Silver High and Taos High took second and third in the management competition.

Teams that place first at their state competition advance to the National ProStart Invitational in two categories – culinary and management.  The culinary competition highlights the creative abilities of each team through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes using only two butane burners.  Management teams develop a proposal for an original restaurant concept and apply critical thinking skills to challenges restaurant managers face in day-to-day operations.  The performance of teams in both the culinary and management events is observed and rated by expert judges from industry and academia.

ProStart is a two-year educational program supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in partnership with state restaurant associations. The career-building program blends classroom learning with mentored work experience to teach high school students the management and culinary skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry. When students meet academic standards, complete a checklist of competencies, and work at least 400 hours in the industry, they are awarded the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement that signifies they are well qualified to enter the industry workforce. For more information on the ProStart program, visit www.prostart.restaurant.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

The Hospitality Industry Education Foundation (HIEF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the educational mission of the New Mexico Restaurant Association. In addition to administering the ProStart Program, HIEF awards scholarships to students pursuing a degree in the hospitality industry. To learn more about HIEF programs call 1-800-432-0740.