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ProStart® Program
ProStart Illinois



ProStart® is a national, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's® industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills that will last a lifetime. ProStart® serves over 115,000 students nationally and reaches approximately 4,000 students in Illinois.

The curriculum is industry relevant, addresses necessary critical skills, meets Illinois State Board of Education learning standards, and offers nationally recognized certifications. The Illinois ProStart® Program goes beyond providing a curriculum in the classroom by connecting students to industry via field trips, classroom speakers, career camps and more. For more information for students and teachers, see below:

ProStart Invitational: 

The 16th Annual ProStart® Invitational was held on Saturday, March 4 at McCormick Place. This year's event hosted students from high schools across Illinois competing in Culinary and Management Competitions. The 1st Place teams will compete at the National ProStart® Invitational on April 28th in Charleston, South Carolina. All winning teams received awards, scholarships and other prizes. Neal F. Simeon Career Academy, a Chicago Public School, celebrated a first place win with their Asian-inspired cuisine. On the Management side, Elgin High School won with their non-for-profit from the heart restaurant concept. 


Over 50 industry professionals and representatives from post-secondary schools judged both competitions. Represented among these industry leaders were executive chefs, corporate chefs, chef instructors and hospitality professionals from a variety of industry sectors.


2017 Illinois ProStart® Invitational Culinary Winners:

1st Place: Neal F. Simeon Career Academy

2nd Place: Buffalo Grove High School

3rd Place: Oswego High School


2017 Illinois ProStart® Invitational Management Winners:

1st Place: Elgin High School

2nd Place: Neal F. Simeon Career Academy

3rd Place: Woodruff Career and Technical Center


We would like to thank our Title Sponsor SYSCO - Chicago, whose generosity and commitment to the ProStart® program made the ProStart® Invitational a success. In addition, a special thanks to our Host Sponsor SAVOR Chicago at McCormick Place provided a SAVOR Demo Stage that featured chefs from McCormick Place teaching various cooking techniques, which engaged both students and guests.


Congratulations to the top finishers and to all of the schools who competed this year. Well done!


To get involved in future events please contact Ann Leider, IRAEF Executive Director at for more information.


2017 1st Place Culinary: Neal F. Simeon Career Academy


Check out news coverage and videos from the 2016 participating teams!

WGN TV Lunchbreak: 15th Annual ProStart® Invitational: Click Here

Chicago Tribune (Joliet): JCHS Students Participate in 2016 Illinois ProStart Invitational Click Here

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