Two schools took home the top prizes in the competition. A team from Polaris Career Center of Middleburg Heights, under the direction of Chef Chris Olszewski, won the first place award for culinary. Their dish was a foie gras appetizer, a succulent lamb entrée and a chocolate mousse dessert. Penta Career Center of Perrysburg, under the direction of teacher Janea Makowski, won the first place award for management. The team showcased a start-up restaurant concept, Sprouts, which is a healthy and organic restaurant with locally grown food featuring quick, casual dining and a drive-thru option for healthy meals on the go.
The winning teams will represent Ohio at the National ProStart Invitational in Charleston, South Carolina this April. The team from Polaris Career Center won the national culinary competition in 2016.
A new competition debuted this year, the ProStart Burger Battle sponsored by the Ohio Beef Council. Student teams had 60 minutes to prepare their burger creations on butane burners with no access to running water or electricity.
Arianna Strozier-Hardin and Kylie Scholle from Jane Addams Business Careers Center of Cleveland wowed the industry judges with their Ohio Beef Burger creation, featuring homemade ricotta cheese and pizza dough bun. Their instructor is Brian Bjorklund.
- Second Place Team - Penta Career Center, Perrysburg, Teacher Janea Makowski
- Third Place Team - Lancaster High School Team, Lancaster, Teacher Debra Bates
The Ohio ProStart Top Culinary Award, provided by Sullivan University, was a tie. Therese Napier, a student at Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights and Carlie Lashuay, a student at Penta Career Center, Perrysburg both took home this award.
"We're very proud of all of our students. The training provided to the students opens doors to numerous scholarship opportunities," said Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation Executive Director Patricia Halper. "The Invitational also put students in front of a wide range of employers and allows for greater opportunities in their chosen careers."
The Teacher of Excellence Award, provided by Bob Evans Farms, was given to Valerie Zeno, a teacher at Sentinel Career & Technology Center in Tiffin, Ohio.
"Zeno instills in her students the needed confidence, enthusiasm and passion to succeed. She does not settle for ordinary when you can extraordinary. She plays many roles for her students, including teacher, advisor, mentor and friend," said Patrick Devine, director of operations at Bob Evans.
More individual awards:
- Ohio ProStart Top Management Award provided by A Catered Event: Adam Vitatoe, a student at Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights
- Ohio ProStart Top Knife Skills Award, provided by Dexter Russell: Ryan Pierce, a student at Penta Career Center, Perrysburg.
- Ohio ProStart Top Leadership Award, provided by Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern: Kymbirlee Kiko, a student at R.G. Drage Career Technical Center, Massillon.
School rankings for the culinary competition:
- First Place - Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights, Teacher Chef Chris Olszewski
- Second Place - Penta Career Center, Perrysburg, Teacher Janea Makowski
- Third Place - Tolles Career & Technical Center, Plain City, Teacher Chef Gregg Needles
- Fourth Place - Centerville High School, Centerville, Teacher Mark Mitrovich
- Fifth Place - Upper Valley Career Center, Piqua, Teacher Gwen Rose & Marie Shaneyfelt
- First place - Penta Career Center, Perrysburg, Teacher Janea Makowski
- Second Place Team - Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights, Teacher Chef Chris Olszewski
- Third Place Team - R.G. Drage Career Technical Center, Massillon, Teacher Dennis Finley
- Fourth Place Team - Sentinel Career & Technology Center, Tiffin, Teacher Valerie Zeno
- Fifth Place - Ponitz Career Technology Center, Dayton, Teacher Chef Anthony Head
"This year's ProStart competition was exceptional. The students, teachers and volunteer judges all did a great job," said Ohio Restaurant Association President & CEO John Barker. "We will continue to grow this excellent program and get more young people from Ohio high schools involved in a competition that inspires outstanding performance and opens doors for foodservice careers."
Photos can be provided upon request.
About Ohio ProStart®
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the brightest talent into tomorrow's industry leaders. ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. The Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation's (ORAEF) goal is to prepare Ohio high school students for top wage, high-skilled careers in the foodservice and restaurant industries. ORAEF is committed to focusing on education, workforce development and retention. For more information on the Ohio ProStart program and national certification, visit www.oraef.com.