ProStart Students to Take the Field for Taste of the NFL
As Minnesota eagerly prepares to host Super Bowl LII, there is an equally exciting event that pairs with it: the culinary event Taste of the NFL. Minnesota restaurateur Wayne Kostroski is the founder of this popular culinary fundraiser, which started in the Twin Cities in 1992 when Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl for the first time. This year’s event will include not only celebrity chefs, NFL players, musicians and celebrities, but for the first time ProStart students are also invited to participate.    

The ProStart program and its skilled students were initially approached by Kostroski and Taste of the NFL's main sponsor Ecolab. “Culinary students from ProStart will join the team this year and we are so proud to have them," Kostroski said. "Working side by side with some of the country’s best chefs gives everyone a better sense of how being involved will change lives." 

Ecolab wanted to connect the leaders of Taste of the NFL with the leaders of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to form a natural partnership in fostering youth in the culinary arts and hospitality management, allowing them to have exposure to this amazing event. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience of assisting professional chefs at a high-profile event in their home state. They hope this partnership will continue at future Taste of the NFL events and allow even more students to have this great opportunity, while helping to contribute to a great cause.

Eighty-three Minnesota students and teachers will be participating, some prepping food while others provide serving assistance. Schools with students involved include: Buffalo, Burnsville, Como Park, Elk River, Harding, Hopkins, North Branch, Park Center, Rogers, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Washington Technology Magnet.

Over the past 25 years, the event has raised $25 million towards its mission of addressing the needs of the hungry and homeless. With over 2,200 expected attendees and one of the ‘hottest’ tickets around the Super Bowl, Taste of the NFL will surely be a high profile event. The Foundation is grateful for this opportunity for ProStart students and the commitment of its industry partners. 

The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation serves as the state affiliate of the NRAEF and the ProStart program. 
Saturday, February 3
Saint Paul RiverCentre
As the past chair of the NRAEF, I’m passionate about the group’s mission to develop the best and brightest talent into restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry leaders.

Bringing ProStart students into the Taste of the NFL benefits both organizations – we’re supporting the Taste of the NFL’s mission to kick hunger, while giving culinary students the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s top chefs.

It’s a natural partnership – one that we’re excited to be a part of.

– Michael Hickey, Executive Vice President and President, Global Institutional, Ecolab
HMEF Scholarship Applications Now Accepted
The annual HMEF academic scholarship application is now open to applicants! We invite qualified students who are pursuing culinary foodservice or hotel, restaurant management to apply. Academic scholarships are available to high school seniors, GED graduates or undergraduate students. The application deadline is March 16, 2018. Click here for details and the online application form.
Building a Team with ProStart 
The ProStart culinary program is a high level, nationally accredited program for high school students interested in restaurant and foodservice operations. Students become well equipped in relevant skills and topics aimed at industry success. From an academic standpoint we know this is true, however, we sought to find out how this actually stacked up in the real foodservice environment.  

We recently reached out to D’Amico Catering, which has a strong history of hiring ProStart students. According to Assistant Director of Operations Cathy Bovard, its first ProStart student, Andrew, was hired in 2011. Bovard said, “Initially, Andrew found us, so we were lucky. After that we knew seeing ‘ProStart’ on the resume meant we were getting an employee with a skill set we could nurture and develop."Over the years, D’Amico Catering has hired other ProStart students for its culinary team: Cassie in 2013 and Jessica in 2014.  

So what sets these ProStart students apart? Bovard said, “It’s not typical with such young applicants to find the strong foundation skills ProStart provides: sanitation, knife skills, kitchen fundamentals and working with a team. Equally important is they bring a desire and a focus to the job. They want to learn and bring fresh eyes to the kitchen.”
Above - ProStart graduates Cassie, Andrew and Jessica all worked together last summer to execute a high-end corporate event in Naples, FL. D'amico Catering's Cathy Bovard said, “This shows how far these young people have come and the importance of the ProStart program. We had a lot of fun getting the ‘ProStart band’ back together!”  
Minnesota ProStart Invitational Looks to Grow in 2018
The Minnesota ProStart Invitational will be held Thursday, March 8th. We thank our generous sponsor, Sysco Minnesota, for hosting and sponsoring this statewide competition! The number of competing schools has grown significantly in recent years. Last year, 14 schools and 17 teams competing from across the state. This year we estimate 25 teams will take part in the competition. The day features culinary and management teams competing for top placement and scholarships. The first place teams will advance to the National ProStart Invitational in Providence, RI, April 27-29. 
Stars of the Future Boasts Fabulous Food,
Boosts Culinary Skills
The Foundation’s annual Stars of the Future fundraiser event was held November 5th at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Eight ProStart schools were on hand to prepare and serve small plate tastings, paired with experienced chefs who helped add to students' abilities and knowledge. This is a successful example of the industry partnering with students! Funds from this event assist our first place Minnesota ProStart Invitational teams with travel expenses to the National Invitational in the spring.  
Saint Paul College Offers ProStart Bootcamp
Saint Paul College hosted six ProStart classes on November 16th. Chefs Sean Jones, Manfred Krug, Sara Johannes and Nathan Sartain provided training on knife skills and recipe costing, as well as experience working in the kitchen. Participating schools included Buffalo, Harding, Hopkins, North Branch, Rogers and Sauk Rapids-Rice. This training is important to our programs as they gain access to expertise and industry topics from top professionals. We are grateful for the educational opportunities provided to students and their teachers. Thank you, Saint Paul College!  
Hutchinson, Keech Honored as Educators of Excellence
Teachers make all of the difference and the HMEF is fortunate to have many wonderful instructors for its ProStart program (culinary) and Hospitality & Tourism Management Program (HTMP). Congratulations to the following two instructors who were named "Educators of Excellence" in 2017. They include:

  • Katherine Hutchinson - ProStart teacher at Park Center Senior High, Brooklyn Park. She believes the adoption of the ProStart curriculum has deepened the family and consumer science curriculum with high expectations/standards and meaningful opportunities for students including Stars of the Future, the ProStart competition and contacts with the people in the industry. Learn more about Katherine at

  • Patsy Keech - HTMP teacher at Eagan High School. Besides classroom learning, Patsy plans many hands-on activities including taking a field trip to Red Wing on Amtrak to tour the St. James Hotel, hosting a tea for 100 Eagan residents, preparing a meal at a crisis nursery, hosting events at the school and much more. Learn more about Patsy at
Katherine Hutchinson
Patsy Keech
Get Involved: We Succeed with Your Help!
The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation achieves its mission by partnering with industry volunteers and donors. We are grateful to those that give their time, professional expertise and funds to support the Foundation’s programs.  We invite you to get involved:

  • Share Your Time and Experience – Both Prostart and HTMP programs benefit from industry mentors. Share your industry knowledge as a speaker in the classroom, provide a tour through your business and operations or mentor a team for competition. There are many possibilities to provide industry exposure and learning to students!  

  • Donate a Scholarship – The Foundation has a strong history of providing scholarships to qualified students on a hospitality career path. In 2017, $99,000 in scholarships was awarded to 29 students. These students go on to pursue culinary and hospitality management programs. Please consider donating a scholarship to impact the next generation of hospitality professionals!

Call (651) 925-4012 or email
The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation works to promote and highlight the hospitality industry as a career of promise. Our mission is to implement and encourage career building educational programs that promote the hospitality industry to high school students. Additionally, we work to provide scholarships to students pursuing hospitality careers. We are grateful for your support!

Lynette Uetz - Executive Director |
Betty Fisk - Administrative Coordinator |
The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable foundation
of the Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations.
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