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National Restaurant Association - Students score Super Bowl touchdown

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Students score Super Bowl touchdown

When the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots meet for Super Bowl LI, the big winner will be a group of ProStart students from Westside Culinary Academy in Houston, Texas.

Students Dominique Jackson, Michelle Meadows and Vivian Romero, and instructors Curtis Bell and Robert Holloway, teamed up with Aramark senior executive chef Mark Cornish to create a special item for NRG Stadium, home of this year’s Super Bowl.

1st and goal

The students followed Aramark’s development parameters under the guidance of Bell and Holloway. They tested recipes and concepts before presenting two contenders – a chicken fried steak sandwich and the Banh Mi  to a panel of Aramark judges. The Banh Mi was a touchdown.

Now, on Feb. 5, up to 80,000 football fans will dig into the Bayou City Bánh Mì 51, a grilled fajita steak sandwich with avocado spread and pickled vegetables.

Holloway called the students’ experience a crazy opportunity and crash course in being a celebrity chef. “I’m not sure they really understood the significance of food at this event, and now their creations will be front and center. My son may never play in the Super Bowl, but my kids’ sandwiches made it to the big game!”

Aramark said collaborating with the students was “fun and engaging, an educational opportunity that not only allowed them to participate in the development process, but also get a taste of the overall experience.”

The end zone

Congratulations to these young entrepreneurial chefs-in-training and thank you to Aramark for giving them this opportunity. We know opening doors like this one will lead the next generation of culinary standouts toward exciting careers in our industry.

“Giving these students an opportunity to create a sandwich for the Super Bowl is an accomplishment they will remember for the rest of their lives, and something they can add to their professional resumes,” said Richie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, who helps operate his state's ProStart program. “Partnerships like this serve as an inspiration and motivation for others to follow suit. Educators, industry leaders and the TRA are all working together – through programs like ProStart – to nurture and build our industry.”

Holloway said three of the four students are planning industry careers.

“If taught properly from the beginning, our ProStart teen chefs can perform at amazingly high levels,” he said. “We’re all super passionate when we’re young, and passion is the key ingredient of great food.”

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