YouthEntity ProStart students place 8th in nation
YouthEntity’s ProStart culinary team, comprising four local high school students, traveled to Dallas on April 28 to compete in the 15th annual National ProStart Invitational.
The event is the country’s premier high school competition in restaurant management and culinary arts. YouthEntity’s team placed eighth in the nation among 46 competing teams.
“Our team gave their best performance of the year. Our goal was to crack the top 10 this year, but after seeing them compete at their absolute best, there was no longer a ranking in my mind, just joy for the students and Chef Matt [Daniel],“ said Kirsten Petre McDaniel, YouthEntity’s executive director.
After winning first in culinary arts at the state competition at Johnson & Wales University in March, the YouthEntity team advanced to nationals to represent the state of Colorado. Over 130,000 students participate in ProStart nationally but just around 400 students, or 0.3 percent, get to represent their state in the Culinary Arts or Management competitions at the national level.
YouthEntity’s four-person culinary team consisted of Leah Allen and Justice Wofford from Roaring Fork High School, Lily Janssen of Bridges High and Mauricio Sosa of Basalt High, coached by chef instructor Matt Maier of AspenPrivateChef.com.
The team practiced cooking and plating three dishes for countless hours in preparation for competition, using no electricity and only two burners: sautéed sweetbreads with foraged mushrooms, spring peas, heirloom potato chips and lemon chive emulsion; braised veal cheeks with house-made gnocchi, swiss chard and root vegetable crisps; and a praline mousse bombe in a dark chocolate cage with a duet of raspberry and mango coulis, vanilla bean panna cotta and pistachio caramel.
ProStart is a national high school hospitality program that incorporates business management, entrepreneurship and culinary arts into one program. Petre McDaniel brought the program to Roaring Fork School district through YouthEntity and has served as the business coach since. Under Petre McDaniel and Maier, YouthEntity’s students have competed at a national level three out of the last four years. In 2015, Maier was awarded Mentor of the Year, and in 2016, McDaniel was recognized as Educator of the Year by the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation. ProStart at YouthEntity is paid for entirely by donations.
In addition to ProStart, YouthEntity offers the YouthChefs Baking & Pastry Arts program for high school students. YouthEntity is an award-winning nonprofit in Carbondale that provides real-world learning experiences helping students graduate life ready, career ready and work ready.
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