NRAEF ProStart Invitational

2017 NRAEF ProStart Invitational: Educating the Future of Food and Beverage Hospitality - By Shannon Straub

Oracle Hospitality

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s 2017 National ProStart Invitational, representing Oracle Hospitality for the second year in a row. 

For those not familiar with the program, ProStart is a high school educational program that teaches students about the foodservice industry. From restaurant management to culinary techniques, ProStart provides real-life opportunities and builds practical skills that students can use when moving into a career in the foodservice industry. ProStart reaches nearly 140,000 students in more than 1,800 high schools across the United States, the Territory of Guam and at Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Europe and the Pacific. 

NRAEF ProStart - LogoThe National ProStart Invitational is the final event in a series of state and regional led competitions. Each state crowns its winning culinary and management teams and sends them to the Invitational to compete against other state teams. Nearly 400 students were sent to this year’s Invitational! 

After a weekend of intense competition in front of a panel of industry leading judges and a packed house of 1,000 educators, businesses, supporters, families and fans, five culinary and restaurant management teams were crowned the 1st through 5th place winners.  The 10 winning teams walked away with college scholarships to further their careers in the foodservice industry. 

As a sponsor, Oracle Hospitality was provided a booth in the Business & Education Expo, and the privilege to watch the whole competition start to finish. 

Business & Education Expo 

The Business & Education Expo provides sponsors with a chance to meet the students and educate them about their business. Sponsors come from all facets of the industry- from manufacturers of kitchen utensils, to food distributors. Subsequently, the students get a chance to learn about different aspects of the foodservice industry. 

In the Oracle Hospitality booth, we featured two Oracle MICROS workstations: one running our Simphony point-of-sale system, and the other running our kitchen display system. The goal was to educate the students about restaurant technology, showing them the FOH (front of the house) and BOH (back of the house) and how they connect. Many of the students had not used a point-of-sale system before, much less knew how they worked. I showed them how to enter in orders and how to send them to the KDS. They seemed to get a kick out of the orders popping up on the KDS screen, one student exclaiming “Look, there it is! How cool!”. 

These students are the best of the best and the future of our industry. Teaching them about restaurant technology was a rewarding experience that I will never forget. 

The Competition 

Watching the culinary and management competitions is a memorable experience in its own. Observing the teamwork, focus, and drive from these young individuals is truly inspiring. 

The culinary teams create the most beautiful and intricate dishes, and prepare them in 60 minutes with only two butane electricity or running water! They are evaluated on their menu, degree of difficulty, food safety and sanitation, knife skills, cooking procedures, food costing, teamwork, taste, and presentation of their meal. 

The management teams develop innovative and imaginative restaurant concepts. The management proposals are evaluated on their concept, marketing strategies, menu, recipes and food costs, operations, and critical thinking skills. Oracle Hospitality’s own Brett Smith, Senior Director F&B Solutions Management, was one of the Management Competition judges! 

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program is helping to develop a strong workforce for the foodservice industry. The students who participate in this program are bright, talented, and the future leaders of the industry. Oracle Hospitality is proud to support the NRAEF and the future of the foodservice industry. 

To learn more about the NRAEF, please visit

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