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National Restaurant Association - Long journey to top for ProStart winners

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Long journey to top for ProStart winners

The journey to the top began with a 24-hour flight.

After six months of intense practice, four students from Simon Sanchez High School in Yigo, Guam, wowed judges at the National ProStart Invitational.

"They were very clean, very focused, and they didn't make any mistakes," said Chef Greg Beachey, who manages the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's ProStart program. "They kept their plates and flavors simple, and they didn't try to get crazy. They stuck to fundamentals."



As winners of the National ProStart Invitational culinary competition, the students each received $5,000 in scholarships from NRAEF and The Coca-Cola Co. Likewise, the winners of the management competition, from Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisc., received $5,000 scholarships. 

In addition to the scholarships, the NRAEF will fly both winning teams to Chicago next month for the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

For the culinary competition, the Simon Sanchez team prepared a lumpia-encased, seafood beggar’s purse; a stuffed pork tenderloin; and a dessert within 60 minutes.

After the competition, Mac Daniel Dimla and his team mates, Angelica Sia, Airen Magday and Leyann Lusung shouted, "We got this one," as they posed for celebratory photos. They said they were excited that their months of hard work and brainstorming paid off.

"The thing that made us stand out was how we worked together," he said. "We are a family, and we really had each other's backs."

1st_Mgmt_Wisconsin_-013.jpgFor the management competion, the Badger High School students presented a hypothetical restaurant concept, which included a business plan, menu, food costs, decor and layout. The students -- Victoria Bouras, Mason Fellmeth and Tyler Lininger -- said they practiced tirelessly for nearly four months, going over their presentation and critical thinking questions every days.

"We kept pushing on," Bouras said. "We knew that if we bled in practice, we wouldn't bleed in battle."

About 350 students from 43 high schools participated in the competion, which began Friday with orientation and a pep rally. The culinary and management competitions ran all day Saturday and Sunday at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore. The event closed with the awards ceremony, where the top five management and culinary teams received more than $1.4 million in scholarships.

"We are so proud of everyone in this room," said Rob Gifford, executive vice president, philanthropic initiatives, NRAEF. "You are all champions

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