The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and Oracle Hospitality present "A Look Inside the National ProStart Invitational." The report showcases the innovative restaurant and culinary concepts developed by high school students who are enrolled in ProStart®, a two-year career and technical education program in secondary schools nationwide that teaches culinary arts and restaurant management skills and fundamentals.
"Oracle Hospitality is extremely proud to be supporting the 2017 National ProStart Invitational – it gives the students a life-changing opportunity to find a career in this exciting industry of ours, while simultaneously helping our customers, restaurant operators, in finding new talent for them to recruit," said Brett R. Smith, Senior Director, Food and Beverage Solutions Management, Oracle Hospitality. "This report offers us a glimpse into the creative innovative minds of the next generation foodservice industry."
Nearly 400 students who participated in this year's National ProStart Invitational presented concepts to a panel of industry judges. Based on qualitative data collected from the students' submitted materials, the NRAEF tracked methods, ingredients used, restaurant concepts and students inclusion of technology and innovation to determine the core themes of the competition and ultimately the report findings.
This year's report unveils themes of sustainability, philanthropy and efficiency. It also showcases innovation, not only with food ingredients and various culinary concepts, but students' desire to use technology to enhance the food service experience overall.
"Once again, we're proud to partner with Oracle to highlight insights from students at our National ProStart Invitational," said Rob Gifford, Executive Vice President, NRAEF. "The report showcases how much students learn from ProStart, and the students' dedication to coming up with new and creative concepts and possible trends in the restaurant and foodservice industry."
Report highlights include:
Students incorporated innovative technology into their restaurant concepts:
- Students used restaurant floor planning software to design a layout of their concepts, designed websites as a marketing technique, created social media campaigns, ideated smartphone applications, and allowed ordering through tablets
- Teams employed different point-of-sale systems, allowing customers to place orders through tablets, kiosks, or mobile applications
- The use of technology was not simply limited to the customer and employee experiences – teams leveraged solar panels, biogas generator, and geothermal energy to sustain restaurant operations
Students showcased their culinary skills through new techniques:
- Seafood was the overwhelming favorite ingredient used for appetizers
- Standout ingredients included wakame seaweed, quail eggs and game meats
- Teams exercised pickling techniques across starters, entrees and desserts – from chicken wings to lemon curd
- Required to showcase certain knife skills, students chose chiffonade, julienne, small dice, brunoise and rondelle
Students promoted sustainability, philanthropy and efficiency across concepts:
- Concepts centered on locally-sourced, health-conscious and fusion cuisine; more than half of the menus featured gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options
- Concepts presented were classified as either casual dining, quick casual/fast casual or quick service, which illustrated a critical trend in the industry – a shift away from traditional, sit-down, in-restaurant dining
- Nearly 50 percent of management teams' concepts promoted community engagement and contained a philanthropic component, such as a culinary internship for at-risk youth, a book donation drop, a pay-it-forward giving model, and a weekly fundraising night for local non-profits
- Concepts also incorporated unique food delivery services at popular on-the-go venues, such as the airport or gym, to effectively reach target audiences
"A Look Inside the National ProStart Invitational" and an accompanying infographic can be found here.
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