The Wilbur Cross Culinary team placed 11th out of 42 teams, the highest the Connecticut team has placed since 2009. With the 4th place finish, each student will receive a $3,000 (confirming amount) scholarship from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The Wilbur Cross Management team placed 1st in 2018, 5th in 2017 and 7th in 2019.
Wilbur Cross High students Charlotte Beterbaugh, Jailyn Gonzalez, Paulette Jara, Rosemarilyn Rodriguez and Erik Baca as the team manager presented the restaurant concept Sakana, a purpose driven, freestanding, contemporary casual restaurant offering only sustainably farmed seafood. Sakana, named after the Japanese word for fish, offers small plates including Loaded Baked Clams and Panko-Crusted Lump Crab Cake; Entrees include the Sakana Ceviche and Air-Fried Cod and Sweet Chips; Desserts include Homemade Sorbets. The students presented their business proposal to the judges through a series of “Shark Tank”-like interactions where they were asked to elaborate on their concept, menu, how they would market the restaurant and think quickly on their feet to answer a variety of critical thinking questions.
“We are always so proud to support Connecticut students as they participate in the National ProStart Invitational, an event which allows them to showcase their hard work in front of top industry professionals,” says Jennifer Conkling-Schmitz, Foundation Director, of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “This event takes an incredible amount of dedication and preparation. The students were focused, while also having a lot of fun. I could see their excitement build they believed they had what it takes to get on stage at the Awards Dinner. Kudos to their educators and mentors for preparing these students and helping them to believe in themselves.”
The Wilbur Cross Culinary Team students, Daisy Galicia, Arianna Gordon, Antonio Mandania, Natalie Quiroz and Christopher Ramirez, prepared a three-course meal in less than 60 minutes over two butane burners. Their menu included a Pan-Seared Red Snapper as the starter, Chicken Breast & Kalamata Olive Roulade with Mediterranean Cous Cous for the entrée, and Exotic Chocolate Yuzu Mango Mousse for dessert. The team was judged on taste and presentation, cooking technique, knife skills, difficulty of menu and safety and sanitation. Competing against 41 other states, the 11th place finish is the highest Connecticut has finished in the culinary competition since 2009.
“This was a great weekend for the Connecticut hospitality industry,” said Scott Dolch, President & CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “The hospitality industry accounts for 10 percent of Connecticut’s economy, employing tens of thousands of state residents from all walks of life. For many students, their career path can and does start through programs and competitions such as this, as they learn the necessary skills for entering the restaurant business and workforce,” says Dolch. The following sponsors have helped support the Connecticut ProStart team from Wilbur Cross High School as they travel to the National ProStart Invitational: Subway® restaurant chain, Oyster Club (Mystic), Performance Food Group, DORO Restaurant Group, the Hartford Yard Goats, Sysco CT, Russell Hall Co. and Sardilli Produce.