Chef Molinaro Judges at the National ProStart Invitational

Posted: Wednesday, April 22nd 2015 at 10:18 AM

After winning the State ProStart Competition in January (story HERE), Flagstaff High School culinary students went on to the national competition in Anaheim, Calif. from April 18-20, 2015. The competition brought 48 teams from all over the world to show off both their culinary and management skills and Chef Mark Molinaro was one of 35 judges critiquing the culinary aspect of the event.

Teams prepared a three-course meal in an hour using just two butane burners as a heat sources and with no access to running water. They were judged on how they worked as a team, knife work, sanitation, safety, and the taste of their final dishes. It’s a very fast-paced event, with nearly 1,000 spectators including industry leaders and university representatives.

Students can be offered scholarships and prizes from partner companies like EcoLab and Darden Restaurants as well as full-ride scholarships to schools such as the Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University.

The first place winner in culinary was Olathe North High School from Olathe, Kan. Each student received a $5,000 check from Coca-Cola. Flagstaff High School enjoyed the experience and the students are already preparing for next year’s competition.

“It was their first time being there in I don’t know how many years, but they were just unbelievable,” Molinaro said.

Arizona just recently brought the ProStart back to the state, qualifying schools to participate in these competitions. They get to experience more than just a fast-paced competition. There are also connections to be made in the industry through a number of companies.

Magic Johnson spoke after the awards ceremony to encourage students to work at the branch of Sodexo he owns, Sodexo Magic, as well as one of the many restaurants he owns.

“There are over 95,000 ProStart students and it keeps growing," Molinaro said. “It is an amazing partnership between education and the industry.”

SHRM's Executive Chef Mark Molinaro was one of the judges for the ProStart National Invitational in Anaheim, California April 18-20, 2015. This video captures the energy and enthusiasm of this event, aimed at inspiring high school culimary participants. Arizona shouts out at :58 - 1:01! While the focus is not on the judges, Chef appears in the background at 1:54-1:57!

Categories: prostart national invitational mark molinaro prostart 2015 chef mark molinaro faculty spring 2015