Students Excel at NH Invitational

Students Excel at NH Invitational

In March, dozens of students came together to compete in the categories of Culinary and Management at the New Hampshire ProStart State Invitational.

Mount Washington Valley Career & Technical Center (MWVCTC) won in the Culinary category while Pinkerton Academy took first in Management.

According to Amie Pariseau of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA), however, the story is not going to continue in the way everyone expected.

“Our first place winners were invited to compete at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington D.C. in May, but COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the regional and national invitational events,” she said.

All is not lost, though, noted Pariseau, who cited several rewards for the student.

“The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation will be providing a gift card worth $150 to each state’s first place culinary arts and restaurant management team members,” she said. The foundation will also be offering a $1,500 scholarship to the 2020 graduating ProStart seniors on each state’s winning teams.”

Acknowledging NHLRA shares in the disappointment of the teachers and their students in not being able to experience the Nationals and visit D.C., Pariseau said it does not lessen the students’ achievements.

“NHLRA is working with both schools of the winning teams to provide a way to celebrate their accomplishment with their team and families in some way this summer,” she said. “We’re very proud of them and want to recognize them for their commitment and dedication.”

This commitment and dedication, she said, led to “impressive performances at the ProStart State Invitational.

Kaylee, Jaime, Riley, Tristan and Sierra from MWVCTC created a menu that featured: an appetizer of crispy calamari and lemon served with harissa aioli and chermoula oil; an entrée of moroccan rubbed rack of lamb with pomegranate reduction, lemon-cilantro vinaigrette tossed with rainbow fingerlings, and sautéed vegetable hash; and a dessert of vanilla bean panna cotta served with grapefruit and brown sugar caramel and topped with spiced pistachios.

“They executed this high-level menu in 60 minutes using only two butane burners, no running water, and no electricity,” said Pariseau. “That’s incredible. We were very fortunate to have executive-level and ACF certified chefs as judges, all of whom said the caliber of the menus and the execution by our ProStart students was outstanding.”

In the management category, Pariseau said John, Lily, Angelina, and Matthew from Pinkerton Academy designed Wild Bamboo, an Asian restaurant devoted to the environment and sustainability.

Their menu featured a dumpling soup, bibimap (a Korean rice dish topped with beef sautéed vegetables and a fried egg), duck (statler duck breast seared with the skin on, paired with bamboo rice and a tat soi-mushroom sauce, beef (sliced flank steak sautéed with onions, served with a side of fresh vegetable), and a steam cake.

“The judges were highly impressed by their QR coupon code and the website they designed from scratch,” she said. “We were fortunate to have judges from all facets of the industry. Many of them were ready to hire our very talented students on the spot based on their ideas, creativity and presentation skills.”

Pariseau said competing students will also receive a variety of scholarships from Great Bay Community College, Lakes Region Community College, NHTI, White Mountains Community College, Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America.

“Despite COVID-19, there are a lot of positive takeaways for the future from this year’s ProStart State Invitiatonal,” added Pariseau.

To learn more about ProStart, visit

GBCC Hospitality Students Learn from Industry Pro’s During Wine Expo NH

GBCC Hospitality Students Learn from Industry Pro’s During Wine Expo NH

Students in Great Bay Community College’s hospitality management program will work side-by-side with wine professionals at Wine Expo NH, a festive wine-and-food event on May 2nd at Portsmouth Harbor Events Center in the Portwalk. This walk-around grand tasting will raise money for student scholarships.

Wine Expo NH will showcase hundreds of wines will all wines available to order at 15% off for 6 or more bottles. Seacoast chefs will be offering a New England cheese station, charcuterie station, dim sum station, pasta station, passed hors d’ouevres and more. The Zach Lange Trio will play also.

“I can’t say enough about what a high-quality and fun event this is and how much the students’ enthusiasm adds to it,” said event planner Michele Duval. “With hospitality such a large part of downtown Portsmouth’s economy, we are really lucky to have Great Bay Community College in our midst. Event sponsor Horizon Beverage is proud to support their efforts with student scholarship monies from this event.”

Dawn Comito, program coordinator of Great Bay’s Hospitality Management program, said the opportunity for students to learn from industry professionals is valuable because it offers real-world, practical experience.

The students who are primarily involved in the Wine Expo are taking a hospitality marketing and sales class. The expo is a perfect example of how a New England spirits, wine and beer distributor like Horizon builds long term business relationships, Comito said. “Food and beverage is such an important segment of the hospitality industry. By actively participating in this expo our students not only gain some hands-on experience in proper pouring and tasting techniques, but they’ll also have the opportunity to begin building their own professional network with others in the industry. They’re also learning how to apply many of the marketing and sales strategies they’ve been studying all semester by experiencing things like personal selling and branding in action,” she said.

Rachel Robillard, who will graduate from Great Bay’s Hospitality Management program next spring with an associate degree, said she and her classmates are “extremely excited” about Wine Expo NH. “My role will mainly be working alongside wine representatives in both serving wine and explaining variations in the different wines,” she said. “I’m excited to gain hands-on experience in serving wine to guests, and I am excited to meet all of the wine representatives and network with all of the other hospitality professionals.”

New Hampshire Hospitality Month with the Fisher Cats

New Hampshire Hospitality Month with the Fisher Cats

Join students from all over the state for a night of learning, baseball and fun!  On Tuesday, April 17th at 4:00 pm, The New Hampshire Fisher Cats and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association will host a Hospitality Industry Panel followed by a VIP behind-the-scenes stadium tour.  The 6:35 Fisher Cats game tops off the day.  Tickets are just $11.25 per person which includes a hot dog, a bag of chips and a 20-ounce beverage.  For more information or to register your school, contact Stephanie Fournier at or (603) 606-4105.  Read more.

First NH Hospitality Month

First NH Hospitality Month

The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association announces the first annual Hospitality “Month”with events April 2nd – April 20th.  The goal of New Hampshire Hospitality Month is to generate interest about careers in the industry. What is a day in the life of a hospitality employee like? What opportunities are available in this industry? What paths can students take to get to their career goals? Let’s excite this next generation of restaurateurs, chefs, sales directors, and operation managers about this great industry!

Middle and high school students will be invited to tour local properties across the state. Opportunities include hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. During these visits, students will have the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at day-to-day operations, interact with employees to hear about their career pathways, and learn about being a cook or front office manager as well as broaden their scope of what other career opportunities the industry has to offer including: web design, social media marketing, accounting, landscaping, event management, and more!

For more information contact Amie Pariseau at or 603.228.9585.      Registration Information

Culinary Students Ready to go “Pro” at State Competition

Culinary Students Ready to go “Pro” at State Competition

On March 11 at the University of New Hampshire, 7 high school teams will compete at the NH State ProStart Competition with the opportunity to represent NH at the National ProStart Competition in South Carolina in April.

At the state competition, participating teams will demonstrate their respective creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes with just two butane burners and without any access to running water or electricity.

“It’s pretty intense—it’s wonderful to watch,” said Chef Gary Sheldon, who started ProStart competitions in both Maine and New Hampshire.

Currently in charge of ensuring all participating schools adhere to ProStart guidelines he helped develop, Sheldon said successful completion of the program positions graduates for long-term success in the industry.

“In the competitions, the students must do a cost analysis on their recipes and work with others as an actual team,” he noted. “That’s what I love about ProStart—it’s what real life is all about. Students also earn ‘passports’ after completing ProStart, which gets them scholarship money to any post-secondary school in the country.”

Education Programs Coordinator at the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA), Amie Pariseau said ProStart can have a tremendous impact on students and on their future employment in the lodging and restaurant industries.

“While celebrating the competition and our hard-working students, we hope to showcase that culinary is a fun, lifelong potential vocation and bring awareness to the educational opportunities available,” she said.

For Robert Mcintosh, instructor in the Culinary Arts with Baking at Concord Regional Technical Center, the experiences offered within CTE programming helps build soft skills that are necessary to succeed in business and in life.

“Teamwork, communication, and professionalism all help prepare a student to be successful in the workplace and are part of teaching any trade,” he said. “What most students start to understand is how much of an integral part they play in day to day life as well. Not all my students stay in the culinary field, but all the ones that stay in touch talk about how the soft skills they learned in a CTE class helped them talk to bosses, professors and how comfortable they are working with people in their field.”

Instructor in the culinary program at Portsmouth Career Technical Center, Chef Perrin Long said this year represents his team’s fourth time at the NH State ProStart Competition. His team made it to the nationals in both 2014 (Minneapolis) and 2015 (Disney-Anaheim), although he acknowledged they ran into some issues last year.

“Our menu was too aggressive and we did not place,” he said. “This year, the students have designed their own menu and the ‘buy in’ they have in the process is tremendous.”

Echoing sentiments express by Sheldon, he said competitions like ProStart help strengthen and build students’ abilities.

“Students that compete are typically much more advanced than their counterparts because of the exposure they have had during practices, critiques and the competition,” he said.

According to Pariseau, her role is to try and build and strengthen relationships with—and between—both school districts and hotel/restaurant industry professionals.

“We are trying to build the next big thing for students in this industry,” she said. “We also strongly believe in ProStart and other education programs out there and the impact they have on students and their ability to enter the workforce.”

Expressing enthusiasm for the upcoming state competition, Sheldon said the demand in industry for individuals who have completed ProStart and CTE culinary programs has never been greater.

“I get calls all the time from people in industry looking for skilled help,” he said. “Students in ProStart are developing professional skills so they can walk into any restaurant and they are not lost. These kids are the industry’s future…I’ll take a ProStart kid over any journeyman cook who has been in the field for 15 years.”