California high school students are busy gearing up to compete in the 2020 CA ProStart Cup, a two-day high-stakes culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship competition that awards more than $2.3 million in available scholarships. These hungry and talented teenagers have been preparing for months to showcase and pitch their ideas including restaurant concepts, new technologies and innovative dishes, to an esteemed panel of experts in a Shark Tank-like setting. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with more than a dozen colleges and universities along with some of the most well-known restaurant and food brands in the country.

Presented by BJ’s Restaurants and Wienerschnitzel, the 2020 CA ProStart Cup will be held on March 20-21 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona. Each year, this eagerly anticipated event is hosted by the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF), a non-profit that invests in and empowers students of the culinary arts and California’s restaurant workforce. The CA ProStart Cup recognizes not only those with the best culinary skills, but the most accomplished students in business management along with a category exclusive to the California ProStart competition, innovation.

  • Culinary Cup: Participants have just one hour to prepare a starter, entrée, and dessert using only two butane burners. Competitors must calculate the cost of their recipes and are judged on knife skills, teamwork, safety, sanitation and communication.
  • Management Cup: Participants must prepare a business proposal for a new restaurant concept, including marketing tactics, a menu, restaurant design, and organizational structure.
  • Innovation Cup: In a first-of-its-kind competition, teams of high school students will develop and pitch a concept for a robot, product, app or software to improve the restaurant industry.

More than 250 students of the top high schools offering CRAF’s culinary program will compete and be judged by 65 industry representatives from brands like BJ’s Restaurants, Wienerschnitzel, Coca Cola, Urban Plates, Bojangles’ and Sysco. Taco Bell corporate will send winners to represent California at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C. May 8-10, 2020.

“Students in our ProStart programs work incredibly hard on their competitive submissions, and it is so exciting to watch as this is a culmination of everything they’ve learned in the course,” says CRAF Executive Director Alycia Harshfield. “We developed this thrilling competition as a platform for young, aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs to exhibit their talent and creativity, and year after year we are amazed at what they come up with.”

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