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National Restaurant Association - Maryland ProStart Invitational a preview to national competition

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Maryland ProStart Invitational a preview to national competition

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Glenelg High School and Carver Center for the Arts students won't have far to go next month when they compete in the National ProStart Invitational.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's National ProStart Invitational will take place April 27 through 29 in Baltimore, just down the road from Tuesday's competition for Maryland schools.

Nineteen teams participated in the Maryland event, where they competed for $1.6 million in scholarships.

As winners of the Maryland ProStart Invitational, the Glenelg (above right) and Carver (below left) teams will join first-place teams from other state competitions at the national high school culinary and management competition.

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In Maryland, Carver placed first in the management competition for the second straight year. "I think we handled the judges' questions very well," said Summer Ryce, 17.

For the management competition, students develop a restaurant concept over serveral months. They plan location, marketing, staffing, design, decor, menu and costs. During the invitational, teams present their concepts to judges acting as potential investors. The students have to come together as a team and demonstrate critical-thinking skills as judges ask for further details.

After the presentation, another set of judges question teams about their visual displays, which show menus, blueprints of the restaurants, photos and more.

Conveying confidence
Waiting for a competitor's presentation to begin, Ryce said she and her teammates learn by watching other presentations. "It's important to smile and make good eye contact," she said. "If you feel happy and confident, you convey that to the judges."

Junior Raven Wilkes, the only returning participant from last year's team, said her ProStart education has prepare her for college and her future as a business owner.

Carver's restaurant concept was called "Locavore" and emphasized fresh, local ingredients. The group "brainstormed and brainstormed" and finally meshed all of the team members "wonderful ideas" to come up with the idea, said senior Alison Smith.

"We learned how to work with each other, respect others, communicate effectively and what it takes to make a restaurant," said junior Arielle David, who hopes to compete in next year's competition.

Junior Monica Chung, who wants to be a dietitian, said the ProStart program gave her an idea of what the industry was about.

Winning record
The win marked Carver's fifth time going to the National ProStart Invitation with instructor Bette Mullins. Mullins also coached a state winner when she taught at another high school.

Last year, Carver's management team placed fifth at NPSI in Kansas City. Although she will be working hard in hopes of a win on the school's home turf, she isn't taking anything for granted, she said.

Team alternate Isaac Krell, 17, says the preparation and competition are fun and enjoyable, thanks to the teamwork and enthusiasm. "If you have a passion for the industry, it's going to work."

For the culinary competion, teams demonstrate creative ability and skill by preparing a three-course meal in an hour. Members of Glenelg's culinary team are Robert Baker, Julian Jimenez, Amanda Martin, Nicole Perry and alternate Gabe Dang. Their instructor is Kerry Johnson.

The Restaurant Association of Maryland, which organizes the annual Maryland ProStart Invitational, will host the National ProStart Invitational this year.


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