Whittier Tech in Haverhill Takes Home First Place in Cooking Competition

Chris Coombs with tudents, Nikolas, Kedian, Darlene Del Orbe, Jannalyz Rodriguez and Maiya Marinez

Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill were crowned first place winners at the annual The Massachusetts Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (MRAEF) Massachusetts ProStart Student Invitational (PSI) this past week.

The high school culinary and management competition showcases the talent of the area’s future chefs and restaurateurs. Madison Park won the culinary portion, while Whittier won the management portion. The winning teams will now represent the state of Massachusetts at the National ProStart Invitational, held in Dallas, Texas from April 29 to May 1, 2016. In addition to the National Competition, the first, second and third place finishers were awarded more than $90,000 in scholarship funds in support of their aspirations in the food and beverage industry.

“This was an exciting competition from the outset. All of the teams were very competitive and their hard work was evident.  Madison Park and Whittier will be great representatives of Massachusetts and the MRA at the National Competition,” says Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

The win was particularly special for Madison Park, as this is the school’s first year in the ProStart program. “It is very rare for schools in their first year to even compete, never mind take home the gold. The entire City of Boston should be proud to honor Madison Park, the first Boston school to join and compete in ProStart,” Luz adds.

Held at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, the day-long competitions ran simultaneously as a live audience and representatives from colleges and universities from across the country looked on. Culinary students were asked to exhibit their knife and chicken fabrication skills before preparing a three-course meal in an hour, complete with recipes, recipe cost, and menu pricing. Management teams were asked to develop a proposal for a new restaurant concept including: defining the concept and developing a menu and marketing plan supported by a written proposal, verbal presentation, and visual display.

The panel of expert judges who volunteered their time and expertise were some of the state’s most celebrated executive chefs and restaurateurs including Andy Husbands of Tremont 647, Nick Calias of the Colonnade Hotel, Jose Duarte of Taranta Restaurant, Remon Karian of Fiorella’s and Pat Bando of Boston College Dining.

“Our students work incredibly hard preparing for the PSI. The students and teachers spend many hours practicing, including after school, on weekends and during school vacations. We are very proud of all of our schools competing and are so happy for Madison Park and Whittier,” said Stacey Sawyer, Director of the MRAEF.

ProStart Graduate and Boston Chef Chris Coombs was on hand to announce and honor the winners. In the culinary competition, Whittier also finished second with Tri-County Regional (Franklin) finishing third, while on the management side Greater Lowell Vocational School finished second and Tri-County Regional came in third.

For more information on the MRA and the MRAEF, visit www.themassrest.org


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