With elevated versions of an oyster appetizer, steak entrée and chocolate dessert, the team from Hammond High Magnet School topped the culinary competition in the 15th Annual ProStart Student Invitational last week in New Orleans.

Lakeshore High School in Mandeville’s team, meanwhile, won the management competition with “Mambo’s,” its concept for a restaurant serving healthy Southern cuisine.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation- hosted event took place at the Morial Convention Center. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation was the title sponsor for the culinary portion, which featured students from 19 high schools; while the management contest was title-sponsored by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and involved students from 15 high schools.

For the culinary contest, teams demonstrated their knife skills, poultry fabrication and creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal in 60 minutes.

The Hammond team was led by instructor Angie Drago and students Ryan Alack, Shenard Crandle, Madison Fisher, Kyarah Golden and Willie Robinson.

Their winning menu was:

Appetizer, Oyster Bahn Mi: shrimp toast, fried Gulf oysters, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, fresh cucumbers and jalapenos, and sweet soy sauce

Entrée, The Steak: seared spinalis, celeriac puree, sautéed asparagus tips, mushroom vermouth reduction, crispy leeks and herb oil

Dessert, Chocolate and Spice: Cardamom chocolate Bavarian-filled krumkake, pistachios, lemon curd, chocolate ganache and strawberry salsa

Other winners were:

Second place, West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, led by instructor Amy Dreher and students Jordan Bringedahl, Kevonte Davis, Ben Souther, Jackson Stewart and Jonathan Tate;

Third place, Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, led by instructor Judy Achary and students Sydney DeVille, Jenna Duryea, Leighanne Lachney, Sherran Marx and Gianna Nastasi;

Fourth place, Abbeville High School, led by instructor Devin Romero and students Blake Broussard, Harley Tesar, Alyssa Trahan and Tori Vaughn;

Fifth place, North Vermilion High School in Maurice, led by instructor Daphne Smith and students Katelynn Breaux, Brett Primeaux, Gabrielle Romero and Austin Sarver. ­­­­­­­

In the management portion, teams showed their knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies, which they presented to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.

The winners were:

First place, the Lakeshore team led by Achary and students Miranda Alphonso, Mackenzie Fomby, Marissa Green, Jonnathan Hayes and Evan Puissegue;

Second place, Hammond High Magnet School, led by Drago and students Alack, Pamela Brownlow, Fisher and Golden;

Third place, West Feliciana High School, led by Dreher and students Lauren Broussard, Jalen Cavalier, Mike Cooper and De’Asia Smith;

Fourth place, North Vermilion in Maurice, led by instructor Daphne Smith and students Victoria Broussard, Adrian Courville, Austin Sarver and Ainsley Lange;

Fifth place, Denham Springs High School, led by instructor Jamie Manotas and students Autumn Cabiad, Trison Comeaux, Cynthia Lopez and Karly Smith.

Hammond High and Lakeshore High will represent Louisiana in the National ProStart Invitational in Dallas, Texas, April 29-May 1, where they will compete for an additional $1.4 million in scholarship dollars.

Schools were also recognized for their individual achievements in various categories within the two competitions.


Knife Skills Award: Lakeshore High School

Safety & Sanitation Award: Hammond High Magnet School

Teamwork Award: Hammond High Magnet School

Judges’ Pick, Appetizer: Lakeshore High School, Tomato & Crawfish Caprese: Fried soft-shell crawfish, crab boil mozzarella, grilled green tomato, remoulade, basil

Judges’ Pick, Entrée: West Feliciana High School, Pan Seared Duck Breast, Parsnip and Yukon Gold Potato Puree, Honey Thyme Glazed Carrots, Cherry Gastrique, Rambo Radish Sprouts

Judges’ Pick, Dessert: Hammond High Magnet School, Bavarian filled krumkake


Judges’ Award, Restaurant Concept: John Ehret High School

Judges’ Award, Critical Thinking: Hammond High Magnet School

Judges’ Award, Verbal Presentation: North Vermilion High School

ProStart is a nationwide career technical education program where junior and senior high school students learn from an industry-derived, competency-based curriculum that teaches culinary techniques and restaurant management skills, coupled with real-life restaurant sector experiences. In addition to industry-specific skills, a majority of ProStart students report learning critical employability skills, including workplace and professional behavior, communications skills and teamwork, a news release said.

The LRAEF pairs ProStart students and LRA members in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Students are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus getting hands-on training. Many LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students.