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300 High Schoolers Participate In ‘Top Chef’-Like Competition

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three-hundred students are cooking up a storm as they show off their culinary skills at the National ProStart Invitational in downtown Minneapolis.

The ProStart program teaches high school students about working in the food industry, including how to run a restaurant and a kitchen.

Monday’s culinary competition challenged the young chefs to not only create a three-course meal, but prepare it in one hour. They had two butane burners, no running water and no access to electricity.

“We’ve been practicing this so many times, it’s just like second nature now,” said William Hoff, student at Elk River High School. “We’re sort of like robots out here, we know what to do and we get it done.”

Students from 34 states make up the competition. A team from Elk River High School is representing Minnesota. Their ambitious menu included a tuna appetizer, coffee crusted venison with gnocchi and a berry mascarpone mousse for dessert.

Judges critiqued the chefs on the food and its presentation as well as sanitary practices and knife skills. Other students competed by presenting business proposals for original restaurant concepts.

Former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib said the biggest challenge for the students is their age.

“The level of training, the level of mentorship, the level of professionalism being shown, not only from a culinary, but an ethic and business mentality standpoint, these guys are so far ahead in the game,” Scheib said.

Scheib now travels the country talking about his White House experience through lectures and cooking demonstrations. More information can be found at The American Chef.

The winners from the ProStart competition will be announced Monday night.

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