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Texas High School Culinary Teams Shine at the National ProStart Invitational

Texas ProStart Champs Put Their Culinary Skills to the Test in Washington D.C. 

(Austin, TX) May 5, 2023 –
Texas was well represented at the Annual National ProStart Invitational in Washington D.C. this past week. The two Texas teams, Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy of Rockwall, TX (culinary) and Ben Barber Innovation Academy of Mansfield, TX (management) earned top honors among a roster of over 80 teams and 400+ competitors with Ben Barber Innovation Academy securing second place in the Management division and Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy placing in the top 10 in the Culinary division. 

After winning the Texas ProStart competition in March 2023, Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy and Ben Barber Innovation Academy teams advanced onto Nationals for their chance to represent the Texas ProStart program and share in a pool of scholarships worth over $200,000 towards furthering the culinary education of the competitors. The event is hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.  

The Texas teams comprised of aspiring young chefs and restaurateurs are part of ProStart, a national industry-based culinary arts and hospitality program, offered at more than 220 Texas high schools by the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the Texas Restaurant Association. 

Culinary teams were tasked with preparing a three-course meal in 60 minutes. Judges evaluated the students’ knife skills, teamwork, safety and sanitation, the taste of the food, and menu development, specifically regarding recipes and cost. 

Students on management teams competed Shark Tank-style, developing and presenting an original restaurant concept, including a menu, staffing, and marketing plans, then relying on critical thinking skills to address everyday challenges. 

“The future of the hospitality industry in Texas is bright. The winners of the National ProStart Invitational are very deserving of recognition and appreciation. Recognizing their accomplishments serves to inspire others to strive for excellence and celebrate successes within their school and communities,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. “We are so proud of all of these students, teachers and supporting parents whose hard work, brilliant ideas, and ferocious skill were inspiring.” 


Photo 1: Ben Barber Innovation Academy celebrating their second place management win at the National ProStart Invitational awards ceremony May 4 in Washington D.C. 
Photo 2: Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy cooking during the National ProStart Invitational culinary competition on May 3 in Washington D.C.  
Photo 3: The first-place management team from Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Mansfield, TX at the 2023 Texas ProStart Invitational, held March 24-26 in Waco, Texas.


The Texas ProStart Program is the largest in the country and focuses on developing the next generation of restaurant and foodservice leaders. Texas ProStart has a long history of sending top competitors to the national competition. The program is industry driven, combining culinary arts and restaurant management training to build practical skills. ProStart provides students a platform to discover new interests while highlighting successful career opportunities across the industry. More than 25,000 students at more than 220 schools participate in ProStart programs throughout Texas every year. The invitational alone draws more than 300 high school students. 

To learn more about investing in the future of the Texas restaurant and hospitality industry, go to 

Formed in 1937, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) serves as the advocate and indispensable resource for the foodservice industry in Texas. As a leading business association, the TRA represents the state’s $87 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses more than 53,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the TRA, the association proudly continues to protect, advance, and educate a growing industry as the TRA enters its 86th anniversary year. For more information, please visit 

Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. Leveraging the latest skills, tools, and certifications, the TRF creates pathways of opportunity for one of the state’s largest and most diverse industries. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management program that reaches more than 25,000 students across 215 high schools in Texas. The TRF also supports restaurants in times of crisis; for example, in 2020, the TRF established the TX Restaurant Relief Fund to raise and distribute more than $3.5 million to support over 800 independent restaurants and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.