Sturgis Brown High School students win top culinary division at ProStart Invitational
PIERRE, SD – Teams of high school students from across South Dakota put their culinary and hospitality management skills to the test at the 2023 South Dakota ProStart Invitational, held March 14 in Pierre.
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. Competitions included culinary, management, and cake decorating.
Sturgis Brown High School took the top prize in the culinary division, earning them a place in the national ProStart competition in Washington, DC, on May 2-4. Izaiah Baker, Morgan Littleton, Tyler Briscoe, Cami Lurz and Eva Jensen were the winning culinary team members, instructed by Joseph Koons.
In the culinary portion of the competition, teams of students have just 60 minutes to prepare a three-course gourmet meal without using electricity. Many of the state’s premier chefs serve as judges, scoring teams on numerous factors, including presentation, taste, sanitation, and teamwork.
Teams also compete head-to-head in a restaurant management competition. T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre won first place and will advance to the national competition in May. Student competitors included Ellie Noyes, Tyler Want, Gavin Jacobson, Marlee Short and Ayden Syll. They are instructed by LaKisha Jordan.
For this competition, students present the steps needed to start and operate a restaurant, including concept, operations, marketing, critical thinking, and menu. Foodservice and industry professionals evaluate the teams’ business plans and presentation skills.
It was a sweet ending for Sturgis Brown Highschoolers Cami Lurz and Eva Jensen when their throwback 90’s themed dessert took home a first-place finish in the state cake decorating division. Sturgis Brown Cake team was mentored by Mica Sulzbach-Bataille from Ohh-La-La-Cakes.
“ProStart is a great opportunity for high school students to learn culinary and hospitality management skills applicable in various businesses, from restaurants to hotel management,” said South Dakota Retailers Association Exec. Dir. Nathan Sanderson. “This is real-world career preparation at its finest.”
Two students showcased exceptional skills throughout the day and were presented with culinary achievement awards.
Ellie Noyes of T. F. Riggs was awarded the President’s Award, given to an individual who exhibits leadership throughout the day’s tough competition. The Black Hills Chapter of the American Culinary Federation sponsors and selects that award.
The South Dakota Retailers Association and guest judges honored Ayden Syll of T.F. Riggs. Syll received the Knife Skills Award due to his overall technique and talent 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, Madison Central, Mitchell CTE Academy, Mobridge-Pollock, Northeast Technical (Watertown), Sioux Falls CTE Academy, Sturgis Brown, T.F. Riggs (Pierre) and Vermillion.