Taos High School earned bragging rights in the kitchen as the restaurant management team is headed for the national ProStart competition. Following a semester of …
Taos High School earned bragging rights in the kitchen as the restaurant management team is headed for the national ProStart competition.
Following a semester of preparation, the management team earned first place at the recent National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's ProStart state competition on Monday (March 4), gaining a slot at the national competition in Washington, D.C. for the first time in Taos High history. Seventeen teams from across the state entered into the competition and only the winners in both culinary and management categories advance.
"The team is looking good for Nationals," said Taos High culinary instructor Benji Apodaca. "They are confident and nervous, but work well under pressure."
Apodaca oversees both front and back of the house teams, management and cooking, and provides guidance as the teams plan their strategy.
Taos High's five-student culinary team also did well, taking second place at the competition for the second consecutive year.
Taos High's management team was charged with creating a mock-restaurant complete with menu, floor plan and operations. Upon judging, the team was asked various questions and handed scenarios which they would have to respond to as they would being an actual manager in a restaurant.
"This year we all wanted to work more together and make sure that each one of our ideas was represented," said team captain Miel Tafoya. "We wanted to show more teamwork."
The national competition could mean thousands of dollars in scholarship opportunities for the five students making up the team. The winners from each state will be at the national competition representing their schools as the best teams in their state.
"We just need to make sure that our presentation is perfect and that we are more confident in our concept," Tafoya said. 'It will be really exciting to be with teams from all around the U.S."
The ProStart competition also held the culinary division's competition and the Tigers took second place this year to the team from Deming. Culinary teams are tasked with creating a three-course meal in under one hour without the use of running water or electricity. Culinary teams are judged on taste and presentation and must even present various knife cuts to judges. Though unable to make it to nationals, Apodaca said he is confident in the abilities of his future culinary team.
"Competition is getting tougher and tougher each year," he said. "They did everything well this year, just the equipment they furnished at the competition kept turning off at the beginning which threw off our timing."
A similar situation occurred in the previous year's competition where the burner was not fully cooperating with the team.
Despite the setback, Taos brought home the ProStart Hospitality Cup for the fifth year in a row from the competition. The cup is awarded to the team with highest combined score between management and culinary teams.
"It feels great to be able to represent New Mexico like this," said junior Aedin Miller. "It's a little nerve-wracking with the level of competition being so high, but I'm sure that with all the work we've put in, we'll rise to the occasion and blow everyone away."
The team will be preparing and fundraising for the national competition, which takes place May 8.
ProStart is a national program held by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation geared toward getting students interested in the culinary arts as well as the ins and outs of restaurant management.
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