Montana High School Culinary Students to Compete at Missoula College

February 23, 2018

MISSOULA – Young chefs from across the state will compete for scholarships, trophies and medals at the Montana ProStart Invitational on Sunday, March 4, at the Big Sky Culinary Institute at Missoula College University of Montana.

Teams from nine Montana high schools will compete in culinary arts and restaurant management competitions from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. First- through third-place winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Both the competition and the awards ceremony are open to the public. Participating high schools include Belgrade, Bozeman, Cascade, Chinook, Drummond, Flathead (Kalispell), Hot Springs, Laurel and Whitefish.

“ProStart offers young people an opportunity to learn about the many career choices available to them in Montana’s restaurant industry,” said Chuck Schommer, chairman of the Montana Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Schommer, who is co-owner of Buck’s T4 Lodging & Dining in Big Sky, is a nationally recognized chef and mentor who has been instrumental in the growth of the ProStart program in Montana. He said the competition is a chance for students to display the many skills they have learned in their ProStart classes.

“They learn essential skills for succeeding in this industry, which plays an important part in the state’s economy,” Schommer said. “And in addition to cooking and restaurant management, they learn things like time management, critical thinking, teamwork and professionalism. ProStart sets them up to succeed in whatever they choose to do after high school.”

During the culinary competition, teams of two to five students have 60 minutes to prepare and plate two identical three-course meals consisting of a starter, an entrée and dessert, made using only two butane burners. They have no electricity or running water and cannot receive any coaching from their teachers or mentors. Professional chefs and postsecondary instructors judge participants in food safety, presentation, taste, food cost, knife skills, menu and more.

Management teams, also comprising two to five students, develop an original restaurant concept and present their business plans to panels of industry professionals who question the students about their concept, menu, costs, facility design, staffing and marketing.

In addition to trophies and medals, winning team members receive scholarships from the Big Sky Culinary Institute at Missoula College, Gallatin College, the New England Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of America, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes.

Winning teams also will represent Montana at the National ProStart Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island, at the end of April, where they will compete with teams from across the globe.

For more information call Jennifer Heggen, Missoula College Big Sky Culinary Institute marketing/development director, at 406-243-7909 or email


Contact: Jennifer Heggen, marketing/development director, Missoula College Big Sky Culinary Institute, 406-243-7909,; Megan Jessee, Montana ProStart coordinator, 406-206-4461,