ProStart, a dynamic career and technical education program, serves as a bridge between the classroom and the bustling world of foodservice. Tailored for high school students, this innovative initiative seamlessly integrates culinary skills with restaurant management principles, alongside invaluable attributes like communication, teamwork, professionalism, and time management. Equipped with these essential skills, students emerge as highly employable individuals ready to thrive in the culinary arena.

From mastering culinary techniques to honing management skills, ProStart’s curriculum is a powerhouse of real-world experience and practical knowledge. Through hands-on opportunities, students not only build a strong foundation but also gain insights that will serve them throughout their lives. Partnering with NM ProStart opens doors to various possibilities, whether it’s becoming a mentor, hiring ProStart students or alumni, or sponsoring a team for State or National competitions.

Members of the New Mexico Restaurant Association play a vital role in the ProStart journey. Many dedicate their time to mentoring teams, fostering relationships that often lead to long-term employment. Others welcome school visits or conduct Chef demos, offering ProStart students a glimpse into the diverse employment opportunities within the industry.

ProStart’s curriculum is structured to cover a wide array of topics, ensuring students are well-rounded and prepared for the challenges of the industry. Level one introduces students to career options, professionalism, communication, risk management, and the basics of front and back-of-the-house operations. Level two delves deeper into marketing, menu management, cost control, and team-building, alongside an extensive exploration of culinary techniques and ingredients.

Upon completion of the program, students can earn their Certificate of Achievement (COA) by passing exams and accumulating 400 related industry work hours. This opens doors to scholarships at over 60 schools and offers college credits, setting them on a path towards higher education and career advancement.

COA holders are highly valued in hospitality operations, with opportunities to further expand their knowledge through the restaurant manager apprenticeship. Leveraging their ProStart experience, COA holders can accelerate their apprenticeship progress, propelling them towards leadership roles in the industry.

With 37 confirmed ProStart Programs across New Mexico, there are ample opportunities to get involved. Simply reach out to NM ProStart Coordinator Tom Schuch at to connect with your local ProStart school and embark on a journey of culinary discovery and professional growth.