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National Restaurant Association - ProStart important to students' futures

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ProStart important to students' futures


Seventeen-year-old Amber Doss gave up a crown to participate in the National ProStart Invitational.

A few weeks after she and her teammates on the Buckingham CTE Center management team won the Virginia ProStart Invitational, Doss was chosen to be queen of her senior prom. But prom was the same night as the National ProStart Invitational, so she had to make a tough decision.

"Instead of giving up on my team, I decided to come here," said Doss, sporting a rhinestone tiara. "I wouldn't have wanted anyone to give up on me. And this has more to do with my future."

Doss, the Buckingham team and about 350 other students are competing for more than $1.3 million in scholarships from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and several colleges and universities.

For management students, this weekend's competition in Baltimore is the culmination of months of practice in developing a hypothetical restaurant concept and presenting to judges acting as investors. Culinary students had to develop and prepare a three-course menu in an hour, as well as demonstrate expertise in knife skills, sanitation and food preparation.

"If you win, you have money for college," Doss says. "If not, you can use this on your resume — that you made it here. It's a big deal."

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Justin McClinton, a senior at Exeter Jobs Corps Academy, agrees. "ProStart is recognized throughout the country," he says, adding that he hopes his ProStart experience will help him attend Johnson & Wales University's College of Culinary Arts.

He and his teammates from Rhode Island will be among the first up in the culinary competition Sunday morning. Despite winning the state invitational, McClinton said he was a bit nervous competing in front of so many people. In Rhode Island — the smallest state — there were just seven teams.

Since the state competition, the team tweaked a few things, but McClinton was reluctant to share details that could give other teams an edge.

"I hope to make first, second or third," he said. "That would be good enough for me."

The competition continues Sunday morning. Winners will be named Sunday night at an awards ceremony.

See photos and videos of the competitors in action.





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