It was a rewarding week for Wekiva High School.
From March 2nd-6th at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, more than 300 Florida high school students from 45 schools competed in the statewide annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (FRLAEF) Hospitality & Tourism Management Program (HTMP) and ProStart Culinary Competition Events. This year marked the 21st year for the ProStart competition and the 18thyear for the HTMP event; Florida is the only state to host a statewide competition for the HTMP program.
Overall, Wekiva received four awards, including one first place in the competitions.
Throughout the weekend, ProStart students competed in categories including Culinary, Management, Edible Centerpiece, and Waiter’s Relay. At the Salute to Excellence Award ceremony, students were awarded for their respective competition categories. They also received scholarships from the FRLAEF and event sponsors, including the World Equestrian Center, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Keiser University Center for Culinary Arts, University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, American Culinary Federation, Ecolab, and Disney Culinary. Winners will advance to the national ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C., which is hosted by the National Restaurant Association in May. HTMP students competed in categories including Hotel Operations, Hospitality Project, and the Knowledge Bowl and were also awarded scholarships from the FRLA Educational Foundation.
"Despite not having these competitions last year due to COVID, this year’s junior and senior year students rose to the challenge, especially given the fact none had competed before,” said Laura Rumer, Director of the FRLA Educational Foundation. “Both the HTMP and ProStart competitions featured opportunities for our students to demonstrate their talents for both the hotel and restaurant sides of the hospitality industry. It is such a thrill to watch them in action, and we cannot wait to do it again next year!”
“We are so proud of these talented high school students who show incredible promise for a future in the best industry in Florida – hospitality,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “While we have always encouraged participation in the HTMP and ProStart programs, now more than ever, it is critical that we support and invest in our youth who will be the future of this great industry. Congratulations to these outstanding young men and women and to their instructors who devote so much time to their training.”
21st ANNUAL FLORIDA PROSTART COMPETITION WINNERS:
1st Place Strawberry Crest High School – Dover, FL
2nd Place Wekiva High School – Apopka, FL
3rd Place JP Taravella High School – Coral Springs, FL
4th Place Steinbrenner High School – Lutz, FL
5th Place Hialeah High School – Hialeah, FL
Rosen College at UCF Management Competition
1st Place Hialeah High School (Hialeah): Vanessa Martinez, Maylet Perez, Jaden Sandoval, Kiana Yee; Instructor Kathy Gonzalez
2nd Place Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Emily Hobbs, Katie Benson, Hayden Hott, Caitlyn Allman, Emma Langston; Instructor Paul Bonanno
3rd Place JP Taravella High School (Coral Springs): Makayla Boudreau, Brian Huang; Instructor Scott Goodman
4th Place John A. Ferguson High School (Miami): Teresa Kinard, Genesis Romero, Kayla Quintero; Instructors Janett Toledo, Jorge Garcia, Jebel Cordoba
5th Place Wekiva High School (Apopka): Kaamla Bernard, Jonah Thompson, Emily Esposito; Instructor Christopher Bates
World Equestrian Center Edible Centerpiece Competition
1st Place Isabel Nunez, Bayside High School (Palm Bay)
2nd Place Judah Meyers, Wekiva High School (Apopka)
3rd Place Payton Miller, Steinbrenner High School (Lutz)
4th Place Emilee Hill, Sandalwood High School (Jacksonville)
5th Place Valerie Barcenas, Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland)
Waiter’s Relay Competition
1st Place Wekiva High School (Apopka, FL): Danny Ha, Josean Vargas, Derrick Ramjit; Instructor Christopher Bates
2nd Place Steinbrenner High School (Lutz, FL): Miranda Drake, Isabella Goldstein, Sophie Lopez; Instructor Cheryl White
3rd Place St. Lucie West Centennial High School (Port St. Lucie): Joshua Curtis, Justin Meyer, Rodolpho Segura; Instructor Calvin Lewis
4th Place Northeast High School (St. Petersburg): Khalid Jackson, Jacob Williams, Curtis Johnson; Instructor Curtis Serata
5th Place Durant High School (Plant City): Audrey Nelson, Kate Hodnett, Gabrielle Eaton; Instructor Guy Hermis
ProStart is a nationwide high school career program educating nearly 150,000 Florida students in culinary arts and restaurant management skills. ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and sets a high standard of excellence for the industry’s next generation of leaders. Yearly, students compete on state and nation-wide levels to showcase skills learnt in their classroom kitchens.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s $111.7 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of its membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.