By: Jen Russon
Stakes were high, and adrenaline surged at the 20th Annual Florida ProStart event in Orlando, where J.P. Taravella students showed off their culinary skills in competitions that included edible centerpiece arrangements and a heart-pumping waiter’s relay race.
Teacher and chef, Scott Goodman, said his team won overall first place, as well as a piece of the pie, so to speak, of nearly $1 million in culinary arts scholarships.
The massive win is nothing new for Goodman, who, back in 2018, applied for a Prostart Kitchen Makeover and won an upgrade for his classroom’s kitchen.
This year, the culinary teacher’s Prostart Team competed against hundreds of their peers, slicing and dicing their way to victory during a weekend that dazzled spectators’ eyes and taste buds.
Held annually at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, J.P. Taravella was one of 50 Florida high schools to compete in contests sponsored by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation or FRLAEF.
Laura Rumer, director of the competition, said the students train in their respective crafts all year, waiting to compete in a regional face-off that tests, in addition to culinary skills, grace, and speed as a waiter, as well as the young chefs’ management potential.
“During the competition, they were challenged to present their restaurant skills by creating detailed culinary dishes, crafting food displays made of fruit, showcasing restaurant proposals, and setting tables in a fun game of Waiter’s Relay,” said Rumer.
She described the students as rock stars, who brought high-quality work to the table quite literally.
Rumer said the last event at the Florida competition was a “Salute to Excellence” dinner, where students received trophies, medals, and scholarships.
The prizes earned came from FRLAEF and event sponsors, Johnson & Wales University, Keiser University, Culinary Institute of America, Culinary Institute of Virginia, and Sullivan University.
Scholarship money in this year’s FRLAEF event totaled $813,000 for students who major in the culinary arts.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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