Nearly 130 students from 19 high schools competed in the 10th Annual Pennsylvania ProStart Competition hosted by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, the statewide association that represents Pennsylvania’s hospitality and tourism industries.


The statewide competition was held on February 29, 2024, at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, Marriott International, Curtze Food Service, Hershey Foodservice, Penn State School of Hospitality Management, Wingstop, and more. The first-place winners in the culinary and management divisions will advance to the National ProStart Student Invitational in Washington, DC this May.


Students from Lebanon County Career & Technology Center, Lebanon, took first place with their fairy garden themed cake in this year’s cake decorating division. Eastern Westmoreland CTC, Latrobe, came in second. Monroe Career Technical Institute came in third.


Crawford County Career & Technical Center captured the title in the management competition, which they last won in 2022. The rest of the competition results for 2024 management category are Greene County Career & Technology Center (Waynesburg, Pa.) in second and Central Westmoreland Career & Technology Center (New Stanton, Pa.) in third.


Students competing in the management division must create a restaurant concept, complete with menu items, marketing tactics, and a floor plan. Crawford Tech students proposed Le Stelle, a free-standing planetarium-themed restaurant that focuses on Italian cuisine inspired by the cosmos.


Crawford Tech also clinched the 2024 title in the culinary category while State College High School came in second. Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Pa., received honors for third place.


Crawford Tech created a three-course gourmet meal using only two butane burners. Their menu included a salmon pâté wrapped in summer squash starter, a classic French stuffed chicken leg quarter entrée paired with Tournée potatoes and beets, and a chocolate Romano cheesecake with a sweet dark cherry sauce for dessert.


“We are thrilled to celebrate our 10th anniversary and see the level of professionalism and creativity of the students,” said Hope Sterner, Director of Education for PRLA. “Through ProStart, we’re working to fulfill a goal of growing the next generation of hospitality leaders and are so excited to see the number of participants increase each year.”


Crawford Tech will represent Pennsylvania at the National ProStart Student Invitational which will be held on April 26-28, in Baltimore. Over 400 students from schools across the country will compete to win more than a combined $1 million in scholarships, awarded to the top 5 teams.


ProStart is a nationally accredited two-year program for high school students to create the next generation of hospitality industry leaders. With programs that garner skills ranging from culinary technique to management abilities, ProStart’s curriculum offers real-life experience opportunities and creates a foundation of useful skills that last a lifetime.


ProStart aims to serve all communities, including rural, inner-city and Department of Defense institutions globally. Taken as an elective track offered in high school and technical and vocational centers, ProStart teaches all facets of the industry, with educators ranging from family and consumer science educators to former professional chefs.