ProStart Competition Showcases Culinary and Restaurant Management Skills of Students | State News

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Eight high school teams participated in a cooking show, of sorts, at Pierre yesterday (March 24, 2022) during the South Dakota ProStart Invitational

Mobridge-Pollock High School Dakota Micheel (mid-keel) was a member of their team competing in the cake decorating category. The teams brought their already baked cake with them, then decorated during the competition. Michel says they spent a lot of time training.

For the cooking competition, each team had to bring their ingredients, do the food preparation and cook the meal using only portable table stoves.

Mobridge-Pollock Junior Tony Wollman was selected as the recipient of the President’s Award for demonstrating exceptional leadership and knowledge of the kitchen. He says they chose a menu reflecting the German and Russian population in their part of the state.

Lizzy Lehrkamp of Rochester, MN, is Sous Chef at Pinnacle Catering and was one of the judges. She says preparation, sanitation and communication are key parts of the ProStart contest.

Teams could also compete in a restaurant management category. Mitchell’s team won this contest, as well as the cooking contest, so they could enter the national ProStart contest to be held in Washington, DC.

-Dakota Radio Group – Jody Heemstra

The SD retailer press release is below:


PIERRE, SD — Teams of high school students from across South Dakota put their culinary and hospitality management skills to the test at the 13th annual South Dakota ProStart Invitational, held Sept. March to Peter.

The ProStart Invitational is an intense, fast-paced event where students demonstrate food preparation and safety procedures, hospitality management, public speaking, and other valuable job skills. The competitions included cooking, managing and decorating cakes.

Mitchell CTE won first prize in the Culinary and Restaurant Management divisions, earning her a spot at the national ProStart competition in Washington, DC, May 6-8. Abby Bitterman, Alivia Siegel, Haylie Von Eye and Alex Spell were the winning members of the culinary team, with Bitterman and Siegel also taking first place in the management competition. Both teams were led by Cindy Gerlach.

In the culinary portion of the competition, teams of students have only 60 minutes to prepare a gourmet three-course meal without using electricity. Many of the state’s top chefs serve as judges, scoring the teams on many factors including presentation, taste, hygiene and teamwork.

The teams also compete in a restaurant management competition. For this competition, students present the steps necessary to start and operate a restaurant, including concept, operations, marketing, critical thinking, and menu. Restaurant and industry professionals assess business plans and team presentation skills.

It was a great ending for Sturgis Brown high school students Natasha Emeline and Angelina Hobbs when their tiered tropical dessert won first place in the state’s cake decorating division. Sturgis Brown is trained by Coleen Keffeler and mentored by Mica Sulzbach-Battle of Ohh-La-La-Cakes.

“ProStart is a great opportunity for high school students to learn culinary and hospitality management skills applicable in a variety of businesses, from restaurants to hospitality management,” said the director of the South Dakota Retailers Association. Real. Nathan Sanderson. “It’s real-world career preparation at its finest.”

Two students demonstrated exceptional skills throughout the day and received culinary achievement awards.

Mobridge-Pollock’s Tony Wollman received the Chairman’s Award, given to an individual who demonstrated leadership throughout the day’s tough competition. The Black Hills Chapter of the American Culinary Federation sponsors and selects this award.

The South Dakota Retailers Association honored Alex Ritesman of Harrisburg High School. Ritesman received the Knife Skills Award for his overall technique and skill in the kitchen.

ProStart is a joint effort of the South Dakota Department of Education, the South Dakota Retailers Association, and the South Dakota ProStart Advisory Committee.

Participating schools included: Harrisburg, Huron, Madison Central, Mitchell CTE Academy, Mobridge-Pollock, Sturgis Brown, Sioux Falls CTE Academy and Vermillion.

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