Metairie, LA— The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF), in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), hosted the 17thAnnual Louisiana ProStart® Student Invitational, February 26-27, 2018 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation was the title sponsor for the Culinary Competition and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers was the title sponsor for the Management Competition. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competition showcased the culinary and creative talents of ProStart students from 22 high schools. The Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Management Competition featured the conceptual restaurant development and marketing ingenuity of ProStart students from eight high schools. 

During the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competitionteams demonstrated their creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal in 60 minutes.

The winner of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Culinary Competition was:
Hammond High Magnet School
Angie Drago
Students: Sara Baiamonte, Andrew Cambre, Khloe Chen, Cade Kershentine and Trenton Oliphant
Chef Mentor: Former Hammond ProStart students Bethany Armstrong and Savannah Hall
Winning menu: Appetizer- egg yolk and mushroom ricotta stuffed ravioli; Entrée-Habanero and tamarind sticky spare ribs, apple fennel slaw, purple sweet potato puree, horseradish sauce and fennel pollen; and Dessert- white chocolate Bavarian, mixed nut nougatine, blackberry jam, pink lemon sorbet and fresh blackberries.

Second place culinary:
St. Charles Satellite Center, Luling
 Patrick Phelan
Students: Zoe Bell, Matthew Fink, Daizhan Price, Tranayshia Kenner and Katelyn Thomas
Chef Mentor: Eli Wilson of Jacmel Inn in Hammond

Third place culinary:
West Feliciana High School, St. Francisville
 Amy Dreher
Students: Blane Coley, Nick Kent, Helen Davis, Reagan Edwards and Kacey Kile
Chef Mentor: Daniel Dreher of Fresh Kitchen in Baton Rouge

Fourth place culinary:
Ascension Parish ProStart, Geismer
Traci Hymel
Students: Sarah Chiasson, Jacqueline LeGrange, Rebecca Lilly, Jervey Cheveallier and Megan Little
Chef Mentor: Jordan McClellan

Fifth place culinary:
St. James Parish Career and Technology Center, Lutcher
 Rachael Schexnayder
Students: Taylor Ferchaud, Elizabeth Springstead, Odyssey Peterson, Whitney Adams and Gretchen Borne
Chef Mentor: Personal Chef Tasha Clement

Teams participating in the Raising Cane’s Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies, which they presented to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.

The winner of the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Management Competition was:
West Feliciana High School, St. Francisville
Amy Dreher
Students: Lora Lathrop, Caroline Smith, Lilly Ray, Marleigh Jaenel and Amelia Percy
Winning restaurant concept: Caroline’s Sandwiches and More, an airport café that offers a healthy take on a variety of America’s favorite sandwiches, wraps and salads.

Second place management:
Academy of Our Lady, Marrero
Tracie Comeaux
Students: Helen Kassahun, Chelsey Termine, Hannah Mauduit, Katelynn Nguyen and Katie Warrington

Third place management:
Hammond High Magnet School
Angie Drago
Students: Kiara Smith, Olivia Bottolfs and Kearstin Foster

Fourth place management:
Springfield High School
Carol Tate
Students: Breanna Fletcher, Stephany Roberson, Jamie Moody, Shea Hunt

Fifth place management:
North Vermilion High School, Maurice
Daphne Smith
Students: Makenzi Williams, Shainie Stelly, Tommy Stelly, Jenna Boutte and Lionel Willis

Hammond High Magnet School and West Feliciana High School will represent Louisiana in the National ProStart Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island, April 27-29, 2018, where they will compete for more than $1 million in additional scholarship dollars.

Schools were also recognized for their individual achievements in various categories within the two competitions.


  • Knife Skills Award: West Feliciana High School
  • Safety & Sanitation Award: St. James Parish Career and Technology Center
  • Teamwork Award: West Feliciana High School
  • Judges’ Pick- Appetizer: St. Charles Satellite Center- Ricotta, chive and parsley agnolotti
  • Judges’ Pick- Entrée: Chalmette High School- Georgia Peach Bourbon Pork Chops
  • Judges’ Pick- Dessert:Fontainebleau High School- Poached pears with coffee sauce


  • Judges’ Award- Restaurant Concept: Donaldsonville High School- Farm Fresh Express
  • Judges’ Award- Critical Thinking:Sulphur High School
  • Judges’ Award- Verbal Presentation: West Feliciana High School

The 2018 LRAEF ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors are: Louisiana Hospitality Foundation- Culinary Competition Sponsor, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers- Management Competition Sponsor, TABASCO®- Opening Ceremony Sponsor, Centerplate- In-Kind Competition Meal Sponsor, PJ’s Coffee- Competition Meal Sponsor, Faux Pas Prints- Competition T-Shirt Sponsor, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar- Competition Apparel Sponsor. Special thanks to Coca-Cola, Freeman Decorating and New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

The 2018 LRAEF Annual Partners are:Five Diamond: Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor System, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; Four Diamond: Performance Foodservice Caro; Three Diamond: Baton Rouge Epicurean Society and Delaware North; Two Diamond: Louisiana Gas Association; and One Diamond: Katie’s Restaurant and Patrick J. Gros, CPA. The LRAEF would also like to thank the nine chapters of the LRA for their support throughout the year.

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant industry leaders. By uniting the classroom and the industry, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. Students are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus providing hands-on training. ProStart is important because it provides a pathway to a student’s future success, providing a foundation for a variety of career choices—from management and culinary operations, to supply chain positions and marketing support. The possibilities are endless in an industry with many facets. Many LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students and also hire them.

*Photos of winning teams attached. Food photography available upon request.

ProStart is a registered trademark of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

ProStart is a two-year, culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school juniors and seniors with a curriculum designed to teach students culinary techniques as well as restaurant management skills. ProStart is in 56 Louisiana high schools statewide with more than 1,200 students participating in the program. ProStart in Louisiana is administered by the LRA Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the LRA. For more information about LRA Education Foundation, visit   

The Louisiana Restaurant Association is one of the largest business organizations in the state, representing restaurant operations and related businesses. The restaurant industry in Louisiana is one the state’s largest private employer, providing jobs to 207,700 residents. Restaurants in Louisiana are expected to generate sales of $9 billion in 2018. Get up-to-date news about the LRA and the restaurant industry

About Louisiana Hospitality Foundation
Founded in 2006, the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation facilitates the efforts of the hospitality industry to provide support for the education, health and social welfare of children in the community, as well as provide financial support to members of the hospitality industry in times of crisis. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed over $1.2 million in support of its mission. These funds are raised through events including Horses, Hops and Cops, The Capital One Champions Club at Zurich Classic, the Red Stick Food Fest, the Gold Medal Chefs Gala, and the Louisiana Seafood Festival. Follow on Facebook on Twitter at, and for additional information visit

About Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Founded in Baton Rouge in 1996, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers® has more than 250 restaurants in 20 states. The company has ONE LOVE®—quality chicken finger meals—and is known for its unique business model, exceptional customer service and active community involvement. With more than 60 restaurants in Louisiana, Raising Cane’s is particularly committed to its home state focusing its efforts on education, pet welfare, active lifestyles, feeding the hungry and business development.


Media Contacts:
Erica P. Burns
Louisiana Restauraunt Association | (504) 636-6516