ProStart is a program that prepares high school students for culinary careers and its Summer Institutes provides the training needed for us as educators. I have been teaching at my current high school for three years and was first drawn to this school because they had implemented the ProStart program. Now I teach four different culinary arts classes in addition to a financial literacy class. The ProStart program is great for our students because it doesn’t just teach them cooking skills. They learn how to produce food professionally and in large quantities, which will prepare them for a number of culinary careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry.
I have seen how my students benefit directly from the skills, techniques and content I gained through the Summer Institutes. I have been able to share real-life examples, provide more opportunities through networking, and increase the rigor in my program. I brought back activities that can be used in my classrooms, such as teaching students how to sauté and mix items in pans without any utensils by having them flip bread in a pan in a relay race. My students love showing off these fancy tricks to their families. It seems like every day they are taking home new skills to show off.
In addition, I have been able to provide pictures and videos from the Summer Institutes, which help teach the topics and really bring them to life. One example of this is the different stages of making soup stocks. In class, we simply don't have enough time to demonstrate this process. However, walking through the steps and sharing pictures from my experiences preparing the stock has increased my students' understanding. I also got to show them, through photos of vegetable trays, fruit displays and more, how uniformity and consistency is important in the foodservice industry. Once I showed them these photos, we made identical pies in the classroom to help the students focus on standardization.
ProStart is an incredible program for aspiring chefs, and educating the educators is a great step in making the program more successful and providing students with the best opportunities we can within our classrooms. Before attending the Summer Institutes, I was not nearly as confident with being able to teach my students, but now I am very confident with my expertise. Thank you to NRAEF and Darden for the opportunities you have given me and for the additional understanding I am able to provide my students.
Darden Restaurants is proud to support NRAEF’s ProStart program through the Darden Foundation as part of its Recipe for Success initiatives to foster greater educational opportunities for students. ProStart serves more than 95,000 students in 1,700 high schools in 47 states, and provides critical management and culinary skills to prepare students for careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry.