Vermillion High School team takes second at state ProStart Competition

Vermillion High School team takes second at state ProStart Competition
A team of students from Brookings High School won the first South Dakota ProStart Competition, held at Mitchell Technical Institute on March 25. The team will travel to San Diego next month to participate in a national competition.

Members of the winning team are Chelsey Criner, Toby Flint, Kristin Lentsch, Evan Rotman, and alternate Jesse Drewes. Criner also won the Knife Skills portion of the competition.

Also participating from Brookings High School were Cayleah Friedrich, Aaron Doolittle, Amber McChesney, and Sara Claeys.

Both Brookings teams are instructed by Joline Dunbar.

"South Dakota is sending a first rate team to the national ProStart competition," said Shawn Lyons, Executive Director of the South Dakota Retailers Association, which helped coordinate the event. "The competition in Mitchell was stiff, and the Brookings team did an outstanding job in all aspects of the event."

A team from Vermillion High School placed second in overall scoring at the ProStart Competition: Mi-chelle Harnois, Codey Koble, Caurel Robison, Mike Steinmeyer, and alternate Lindsay Covill.

Another Vermillion team received the Judges Award in recognition of their team spirit, attitude, effort and enthusiasm: Shalita Bart-lett, Tabitha Irwin, Justine Johnson, Jenny Schaner, and alternate Natalie Severson. Both Vermillion teams are instructed by Ilene Lerseth.

A total of eight teams from Brookings, Lake Andes, Lower Brule, Mitchell and Vermillion participated in the competition, which tested students on culinary

and business management knowledge and skills. The teams were judged by chefs, hospitality industry professionals, and foodservice instructors and suppliers. Participating from Andes Central High School were Janie Konyek, Angelia Tronvold, and Patrisse Vasek. Their instructor is Mary Jo Parker.

"The level of skills was terrific," said Chef Mark Mancuso of Pierre, who served on the team of judges evaluating the taste and appearance of the final culinary products. "From the knife skills to the presentation of the dishes, it was professional quality. I was very impressed with what they were learning, and how professional it was. I thought it was an outstanding program, and I hope to see more communities get on board."

ProStart is a two-year business management program created by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Through the program, high school students learn business math, nutrition, workplace safety, sanitation, cooking skills, customer service, cost planning, labor costs, inventory control, and other business basics. South Dakota is one of 47 states and territories which offer the ProStart curriculum to high schools, and one of 35 states to hold a state competition.

Through the ProStart Competition, students are tested on the skills they have learned in class. The competition is composed of two main areas: culinary and management. In the culinary competition, each team demonstrated their creative abilities through the preparation of a three course meal, consisting of a starter, an entree and a dessert. The teams are limited on the time they may spend on the meal preparation, and they had to follow strict rules on preparation and cleanup. The teams were judged on work skills, safety, sanitation, knife skills, presentation, menu and product taste.

During the management portion of the competition, the teams demonstrated their communication skills and logic through a Case Study. Each team was presented with a scenario involving a series of problems occurring in a restaurant. They were given thirty minutes to decide how they would handle the problems, then made a presentation to a panel of judges. The second half of the management portion of the competition involved a Quiz Bowl, which is a game show style question and answer session.

The ProStart Competition was a joint effort of the South Dakota Department of Education, the South Dakota Retailers Association, and the South Dakota ProStart Advisory Committee.

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