Georgia High School Students Compete in Culinary Competition

Staff Report

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Seven Georgia high schools traveled to Atlanta on Friday, March 17, 2023, for a statewide competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts to win scholarships, top honors, and more at the Georgia ProStart State Invitational. Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Berkmar High School and Maxwell High School of Technology took home top honors and will represent Georgia at the premier national high school culinary arts and restaurant management competition in Washington, D.C., on May 2-4. These schools will join over 80 teams from across the country to vie for top high school culinary and restaurant management honors as well as almost $200,000 in scholarships to support their future aspirations in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Additionally, chef James Bryant of Berkmar High School was named the Georgia ProStart Educator of Excellence for his demonstrated excellence in the classroom.

While at the 2023 National ProStart Invitational (NPSI) in Washington, D.C., the management team from Maxwell High School of Technology and the culinary team from Berkmar High School will join nearly 400 students to put their skills to the test in front of culinary and restaurant business leaders, family and friends. The three-day event will feature an opening ceremony, two days of powerful culinary and restaurant management competition, and an awards dinner. The top five teams from the culinary and management competitions will earn coveted scholarships to continue their restaurant or food-service education.

“The young people participating in our ProStart program are the future of our industry”, said Karen Bremer, GRA President + CEO. “I couldn’t be prouder to have Berkmar High School and Maxwell High School of Technology representing Georgia and competing at the national level in Washington D.C. The talent that these two teams have is genuinely inspiring, and I can’t wait to cheer them on.”

Supported by the Georgia Restaurant Association, ProStart is a high school program that gives students interested in food service and hospitality careers a head start by teaching culinary techniques and management skills through an industry-driven curriculum. Upon successful completion of the ProStart program, students receive an industry-recognized certificate, and employers get well-prepared, enthusiastic employees.

This exciting competition showcases the talents and classroom skills of ProStart students from high schools across the nation. Students must impress judges from leading industry corporations, colleges, and universities with skills they’ve developed through ProStart. The NPSI is composed of two distinct competitions: management and culinary.

Management teams develop a proposal for the next promising restaurant concept and present it to a panel of industry judges. Their problem-solving skills are tested as they quickly solve challenges faced by managers daily. The culinary competition highlights each team’s creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners and without access to running water or electricity. Students are evaluated on taste, skill, teamwork, safety, and sanitation.

The top five teams from the culinary and management competitions are awarded generous educational scholarships to help further their careers in the restaurant and food-service industry. In 2022, more than $200,000 in scholarships were awarded to winning students.

In addition to a week of intense contests among the nation’s top culinary students, NPSI also will announce the 2023 recipients of the ProStart Educator of Excellence Awards (EEA), which recognize exceptional ProStart educators in their classrooms. Each participating state restaurant association nominates its leading educator who has demonstrated a strong commitment to his or her students and the ProStart program. This year’s EEA winners will be announced, along with three honorees in the categories of Classroom Expertise, Best Practice and Knowledge Sharing, and Industry Connections. Each category winner will receive $3,500 for their achievement. The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) also will reveal the recipient of the James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year Award, recognizing one EEA winner for their tireless dedication to providing remarkable experiences to their ProStart students. This annual honoree receives a gift of $10,000.

For more information on the ProStart program, visit