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Cary High School culinary team headed to national competition

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The Cary High School culinary team is headed to a national competition

Cary High School students are making names for themselves in the culinary world with a first place finish in a statewide competition. And now they're preparing to compete at the national level, all thanks to a program called ProStart.

"It felt amazing, it felt like all of these months of two practices a week going back-and-forth it felt great like we earned this," said junior Demuzla Bryant Jr. about the win.

In order to compete the students must first take a class offered at their school as part of the ProStart program. The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation oversees it, and helps prepare juniors and seniors in more than 1,700 high schools in 48 states for jobs in culinary arts and restaurant management.

"They're getting a jump start on their career. Instead of waiting till after they graduate, they're doing it when they're in high school," explains Cary H.S. ProStart Instructor Ashley Whitesides.

"ProStart truly brings the industry to the classroom, and the classroom to the industry," said Lance Trenary, President and CEO, Golden Corral and Chair of the NCRLA Board of Directors. "We're pleased to help support this program and its continued efforts to prepare our nation's future leaders for fulfilling and worthwhile careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry."

As part of the program, students are getting hands-on practice in the kitchen twice a week. And, by winning the statewide competition this past March, some of these Cary High School students landed scholarships to top culinary schools across the country.

"I'm going to Johnson Wales in the fall!" exclaims senior Sheriden Lovell. "It's helping me get scholarships and money to pay off college as well as getting experience I need and resume builders."

It's also helping these students get in touch with their creative sides.

"It gives you so much freedom, it gives you creativity, you can do whatever you want to do, you can take a recipe and make it your own." Bryant added.

Many post-secondary schools in the nation recognize ProStart's Certificate of Achievement, which is awarded to students who complete both levels of the program and at least 400 hours of work experience. The scholarships awarded at the North Carolina ProStart Invitational Presented by Golden Corral totaled more than $1.1 million. They included scholarships to The Art Institute of Charlotte or Raleigh, New England Culinary Institute, International Culinary School at The Arts Institutes, The Chef's Academy, The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales University, Louisiana Culinary Institute, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The Cary culinary team heads to Nationals in Texas at the end of April. Much like what it faced at the state level, this culinary competition focuses on their creative abilities as each team must prepare a three-course meal in sixty minutes without access to running water, electricity and only two butane burners. Judges evaluate teams on knife skills, safety and sanitation, team skills, taste and presentation, and other skills.

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