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Professional food service for Carbon High students

Laurie Hansen, Carbon High Prostart instructor stresses the importance of "presentation" to Katelyn Cunningham, Nathaniel Woodward and Cliff Alexander.

The real world and Carbon High School met head on when Laurie Hansen's ProStart class catered dinner theatre in conjunction with a Carbon High School theater department production. Students were responsible for all phases of the dinner - recipe testing, food preparation, shopping, table setting, and reservation management.

The name of the program is ProStart which literally defines its purpose. This is a curriculum developed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Hansen, Carbon High ProStart instructor, explained the scope of the program.

"This is actually a two year program," said Hansen. "The purpose of the program is to give students a chance to further their culinary skills while still in high school and help prepare them for a career in the culinary/hospitality world. It literally means an early 'professional start.'".

In addition to the classroom instruction, the national program requires students to participate in an internship and pass tests from the NRA. Students would then receive a certificate identifying them as a graduate of a ProStart program.

The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation estimates that from 2004-2014 the number of jobs in the restaurant and food service industry is projected to increase by 1.8 million - of which approximately 45,000 will be management positions. ProStart is one initiative that is encouraging high school students to consider careers in the restaurant and food service industry.

At the present time, there are 21 students enrolled in the class. Hansen explained her long term goals for the program by saying

"Many students want and need an opportunity to learn more in this area," she stated. "My goal is not just to provide meals but to give students experiences in food service. I want students who are really interested in culinary arts to have the experiences they need to be able to go to culinary school when they graduate from Carbon High School."

Some of the students in the class will be participating in a ProStart Competition in January. Four students will work as a team to prepared a salad, entree (protein, starch,vegetable) and a dessert all in one hour on two butane burners. The students will be judged by chefs from along the Wasatch Front.

Hansen is looking for assistance in preparing for the competition.

"I am looking for certified chefs who would act as mentors for this competition," she said.

Interested community members can contact Hansen at Carbon High School.

Hansen indicated that the ProStart program has partnerships in 45 states and territories.

"I am delighted that we can bring this program to area students as one opportunity for young people to build a meaningful and productive career choice."

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