ProStart high school cooking competition returns on Saturday, March 19

Posted3/16/2022 10:55 AM

On Saturday, March 19, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will host the 22nd annual Illinois ProStart Invitational, a statewide high school competition where students are graded on their cooking and management skills.

Teams from seven high schools will compete in two competitions - culinary and restaurant management. Five culinary teams will prepare a three-course meal and will be judged on taste, creativity, safety and sanitation. Five restaurant management teams will be judged on restaurant concept, menu, organizational charts, restaurant layout and design, and marketing and cost analysis. Students from the following schools are competing: Benito Juarez Community Academy, Oswego High School, Manley High School, Rich Township High School, Technical Center of DuPage, Woodruff Career & Technical Center and Rolling Meadows High School.


The event will take place at Kendall College at National Louis University in Chicago. This is the first time since 2020 that the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is hosting the event in-person after going virtual for the 2021 competition due to COVID-19.

First place, second place and third-place teams will win prizes, such as scholarships from culinary and hospitality schools, knife kits, cooking utensils, gift cards and more. Additionally, first place teams will advance to the National ProStart Invitational that will be held in Washington, D.C., on May 6-8. Students who win the national competition earn scholarships from the best culinary and restaurant management programs in the country.

The ProStart Invitational will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at Kendall College at National Louis University, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. High school students from across the state will be participating with more than 25 industry judges and an estimated 200 people attending.

There will be a post-secondary and industry fair for attendees from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsors include: College of DuPage; DePaul University; Kendall College at National Louis University; Kennedy-King/Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute; Sullivan University; Joliet Junior College; Home Run Inn Pizza; HMSHost; and SAVOR…Chicago.

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Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. The foodservice industry in Illinois is the largest private sector employer in the state. To serve the needs of this important industry and support its future, the Illinois Restaurant Association works to provide restaurant operators and suppliers in Illinois with valuable business services, networking opportunities, cost saving programs, and vital advocacy.

The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) is a 501 (c)(3) dedicated to building the Illinois hospitality workforce through career exploration, workforce development programs and scholarships. Since its inception, the IRAEF has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to deserving students. ProStart® is a national school-to-careers program that prepares high school students for careers in foodservice and hospitality management. ProStart® in Illinois is administered by the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to over 4,000 students at 62 schools in the Chicagoland area. Students have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials and articulated credits for college while in high school. The Foundation provides work readiness training and connects students with industry professionals through job shadowing and internships to help hone their skills in the foodservice industry. The ProStart® program is also offered in all 50 states encompassing more than 140,000 high school students in more than 1,800 high schools. For more information, visit

With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and state restaurant association partners, ProStart® reaches more than 140,000 students at more than 1,750 high schools across 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam.

From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-life experience opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. Learn more at

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