This week, Omnivore was proud to attend the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF) ProStart Cup, where we sponsored and presented the inaugural Innovation Cup. Huge kudos to the organizers of this amazing event! So much to talk about, where to even start? Let’s start with the basics and end with dessert.
Who is the California Restaurant Association Foundation?
CRAF is the charitable nonprofit arm of the California Restaurant Association that focuses their efforts on building up the restaurant community by providing emergency assistance grants for restaurant workers, and by enriching programs and arranging scholarships to encourage youth who are looking to enter the restaurant industry.
One of their associated programs is ProStart – a two-year culinary arts and hospitality management program developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation used in 127 public high schools in California, reaching 9,000 students. CRAF helps ProStart programs by connecting students with field trips, supplies, guest speakers, grants, scholarships, and competitions, like the ProStart Cup.
What is the ProStart Cup?
The ProStart Cup took place on March 15-16 this year at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center, where ProStart students in Southern California competed in three competitions:
Culinary Cup – A cooking competition where student teams had one hour to prep a three-course meal
Management Cup – Teams developed and presented business proposals for a new restaurant concept
Innovation Cup – Teams developed and pitched a concept for a robot, product, app, or software to improve the restaurant industry
Participants enjoyed exhibitions on the latest culinary trends as well as culinary college and career options. Winners were awarded cash prizes, pizza parties, field trips, and scholarships.
The Newest Frontier
Here at Omnivore, we’re proud to sponsor the Innovation Cup to encourage youth in the newest frontier of the industry – technology. With technology’s growing role in the restaurant industry, restaurant industry careers are no longer limited to FOH or BOH, and the Innovation Cup gives our youth a chance to explore a career at the intersection of hospitality and technology.
And the winners of the inaugural Innovation Cup are….
Orange County School of the Arts
OCSA developed an app concept inspired by their school’s nut-free status, featuring the ability to have people with food allergies input their allergies and dietary preferences and have those needs communicated directly to restaurant kitchens and food delivery services for handling, as well as giving them the ability to narrow down their choice of restaurants and dishes by those that fit their dietary needs. Great job, OCSA!
Second and third place went to Team #1 and #2 from San Dimas High School for proposals featuring a robotic waiter designed for the smooth transfer of meals and an automatic seasoning dispenser for better mise en place.
The ProStart Cup featured an incredible list of sponsors, including BJ’s Restaurants, ECOLAB, Coca Cola, The Art Institute, Sysco, and more. Food Network chef Jet Tila gave his time as the keynote speaker to share stories from his career with the students and stuck around afterward for a meet and greet.
The awards ceremony featured food from Lazy Dog, Urban Plates, Panda Express, and Suzie Cakes. It even featured fun things for students like the Boomerang Photo Booth.
I could go on, but nothing can accurately describe the energy of the students at the event. Attend next year on March 15-16 to support the future of the restaurant industry or support CRAF by donating here.
Oh, wait…didn’t I say I would end with desserts?
How could I mention a Culinary Cup and not show you any food? Here are a few pics of some of the amazing desserts made by the Culinary Cup competitors. These high schoolers have some serious talent.
Alright, now that we’re all hungry again, great job to all the student teams and their educators, and a huge thank you to CRAF for supporting the future of the restaurant industry!