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ProStart® Program

ProStart® is a national, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills that will last a lifetime. ProStart® serves nearly 140,000 students nationally and reaches approximately 3,000 students in Illinois.

The curriculum is industry relevant, addresses necessary critical skills, meets Illinois State Board of Education learning standards, and offers nationally recognized certifications. The Illinois ProStart® Program goes beyond providing a curriculum in the classroom by connecting students to industry via field trips, classroom speakers, career camps and more. For more information for students and teachers, see below:

ProStart® Invitational: 

On Saturday, February 24, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation welcomed nine culinary teams and five management teams comprised of high school ProStart students from across the state to compete in the 17th Annual Illinois ProStart Invitational. This full day of Culinary and Restaurant Management competitions were hosted by Savor…Chicago & McCormick Place.

Woodruff Career and Technical Center took first place in the management division while Elgin High School earned first in the culinary division.   Both teams received scholarships and prizes and will advance to compete in the National ProStart Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island in late April.  

Over 40 industry professionals and representatives from post-secondary schools judged both competitions. Represented among these industry leaders are executive chefs, corporate chefs, chef instructors and hospitality professionals from a variety of industry sectors. 

The event, presented by Title Sponsor SYSCO also included a College and Industry Expo featuring admissions representatives from post-secondary culinary programs, and industry job opportunities.

The top ranking teams included:

Culinary Competition

1st place: Elgin High School

2nd place: Technology Center of DuPage

3rd place: Oswego High School

Management Competition

1st place: Woodruff Career & Technical Center

2nd place: Oswego High School

3rd place: Rolling Meadows High School

Congratulations to the top finishers and to all of the schools who competed this year. Well done students and teachers!

Please reach out to Terrell Johnson, IRAEF Executive Director at with any questions. 


2018 1st Place Culinary: Elgin High School


2018 1st Place Management: Woodruff Career & Technical Center

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