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Monika Zuluaga

Vice President, Membership & Marketing

401-223-1120, ext. 116

Dale's Corner

This blog is written by Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) and RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF). Its purpose is to engage RIHA members with current issues and trends.

Recently, Providence, RI hosted the National ProStart® Invitational (NPSI), the country’s premier secondary-school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. We had some wonderful judges visit from all over the nation as well as celebrity speaker, Ted Allen, long-time host of TV cooking competition, Chopped. While Ted was a wonderful addition to the competition and an exciting and enthusiastic speaker who graciously gave so much of his time to students, judges and the audience alike, the thing I was most excited about was seeing the promise, talent and passion that exudes in each of the more than 400 students who put their heart and soul into the competition.

I cannot adequately convey the level of enthusiasm that the students radiated as they first arrived at the RI Convention Center to start a weekend-long line up of stiff competitions, but it’s safe to say that I have never seen anything like it. The pure joy that these students – and future culinary leaders – emitted was contagious and there was not an attendee in the room that was not profoundly touched in some way watching these high school kids shine brightly.

For those of you not familiar with NPSI, it is the finale of a nationwide series of state competitions hosted by partner state restaurant associations. For each respective competition – culinary or management – students must impress judges from leading industry corporations, colleges, and universities with skills they’ve developed through ProStart. Winners of the regional competition then go on to represent their schools and states in the nationals. This was the first time that Providence has ever hosted the competition.

Day one featured teams competing in the culinary arts competition and kicked off in rounds beginning at 8:00 a.m. and running through 4:00 p.m. Students competed in a wide array of culinary challenges including: safe food transportation, knife skills, a cook-off by preparing a three-course meal (using only two burners), teamwork/cooperation, professionalism/appearance, plate presentation, and more. They had just one hour to complete their dish and have it judged by a panel of chefs and culinarians from around the nation. Rhode Island’s own William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical Center competed, creating a dish that featured Pan Seared Sea Scallops served over butternut squash puree with brussel sprout slaw, honey lime and pancetta vinaigrette; Pan Seared Duck Breast served with fondant potato, pan-roasted root vegetables and blood orange Grand Marnier gastrique and White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with hazelnut joconde cake, Nutella crunch, Frangelico Chantilly cream and raspberry sauce.

Day two featured the Foodservice Management competition in which students presented a restaurant concept and design business plan including design boards, floor plans, marketing plans, and menu design. East Providence Career and Technical Center represented Rhode Island in the competition and created an exciting and vibrant plan for their food truck concept, Krazy Kabobs. Their offerings included various healthy and delicious kabobs including dessert kabobs. At the competition, in addition to their proposal, they featured Waffles and Strawberries on a stick!

At the end of the weekend, during an incredible gala event, the final results were tallied. Up for grabs for the winning team in culinary and management:  $1 million in coveted scholarships from the nation’s premier culinary and restaurant management programs.

Although RI’s teams did not place in the top five winners, we are proud of the job that they did. Davies placed eighth out of 46 competing teams in the Culinary competition and East Providence, a first-time competitor in NPSI, placed 36th out of 46 competing teams in the Management competition.

National winners in the culinary competition were:
•    1st     Missouri
•    2nd    Texas
•    3rd     South Carolina
•    4th     New Jersey
•    5th     Michigan

Management winners were:
•    1st     Connecticut
•    2nd    North Carolina
•    3rd     Tennessee
•    4th     Massachusetts
•    5th     Colorado
It’s because of students like these that our nation’s hospitality scene is vibrant and growing and maintains its position as the second-largest private employer in the country. I could not be prouder of all of these young and aspiring students. 

List of Articles
No. Subject Author Date
40 The Best and Brightest Shine Brightly at RIHA’s Stars of the Industry Event file Monika Jan 15, 2019
Well, we did it again…Rhode Island’s amazing hospitality industry converged on Twin River Casino Hotel to celebrate our best and brightest of 2018. This annual event is truly the highlight of my year, and even though it takes an enormous amo...  
39 ‘Tis the Season of Giving Monika Sep 20, 2018
Hope everyone had a wonderful summer filled with rest, relaxation and rejuvenation and is now raring to go! We are fully in the season of giving – no, not the holidays – but, an even more stressful time of the year, the political season. Now...  
38 That’s a Legislative Wrap! file Monika Aug 16, 2018
After a marathon session of debates and a flurry of votes, Rhode Island’s General Assembly has adjourned for the summer. With hundreds of bills in the mix, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) spent countless hours carefully monitoring each...  
37 Summer in New England: Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard file Monika Jul 05, 2018
When many of us think about summer vacations, we think about jumping on a plane and traveling to a far-off destination. However, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in New England, there’s no need to venture too far to enjoy som...  
» Our Next Generation of Culinary Stars: Cooking and Planning Their Hearts Out file Monika Jun 11, 2018
Recently, Providence, RI hosted the National ProStart® Invitational (NPSI), the country’s premier secondary-school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. We had some wonderful judges visit from all over the nation as...  
35 Swimming Down “STREAM” Monika May 15, 2018
Education is truly the foundation of success no matter what career path you choose. Some learning is done in traditional classrooms, and more practical experience is gained in the thick of it in a restaurant or hotel kitchen, lodging establi...  
34 The #MeToo Movement is More than a Hashtag file Monika Mar 02, 2018
While the #MeToo movement has become synonymous with the entertainment industry, its reach is far deeper than the bright lights and golden statues of Hollywood. From politics, to business, to manufacturing, to hospitality, the potential for ...  
33 “We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” file Monika Jan 02, 2018
“We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” – Carl Sagan There is no greater honor for me each year then to be part of our industry’s largest celebration! Each November, I look forw...  
32 Paid Sick Leave Passes RI Legislature file Monika Oct 10, 2017
In September, both the Rhode Island House and Senate passed legislation that will require companies to give employees paid sick leave. Although the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is generally opposed to mandates that impact the employer-e...  
31 When did ‘Entry Level’ become Negative? file Monika Sep 19, 2017
If there is one theme that has dominated the political landscape in Rhode Island for the last decade, it is without a doubt jobs and the economy. Though we have seen a rise in the local economy since the recession, talk of job creation still...  
30 Taking the High Road – the Road Less Traveled file Monika Jul 24, 2017
Normal 0 false false false EN-US KO AR-SA Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It is increasingly difficult to take the high road in today’s political climate. And, so few are doing it, but it is critically important....  
29 Paid Sick Leave – it’s Nothing to Sneeze at RIHA May 08, 2017
In Rhode Island and across the nation, we’ve seen a host of legislation introduced by out-of-state special interest groups that have squarely targeted the hospitality industry. From eliminating the federal tipped wage, to raising minimum wag...  
28 Buying Local for the Holidays Monika Nov 15, 2016
The holiday season is fast approaching…from a retail perspective, it seems to come earlier and earlier each year. While I was shopping for Halloween candy this year, I was sidestepping Christmas trees, holiday decorations and specialty choco...  
27 The Cost of ‘Chip’ Cards and Protecting Against Fraud Monika Oct 04, 2016
By Dale Venturini, President and CEO, R.I Hospitality Association  Many of us currently have an EMV credit or debit card – also known as a ‘chip’ card. These safer versions of the traditional magnetic-strip cards were designed to protect co...  
26 Gluten is Not Free in Restaurants file Monika Sep 01, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association We all know people who struggle with food allergies. From peanut butter, to shellfish, to strawberries, to dairy, the idea of dining out when one has a food allergy can be an alarmi...  
25 Managing a Better Future file Monika Jun 30, 2016
The hospitality industry is a continuously growing segment of the U.S. economic picture. This year alone, the restaurant industry is expected to realize $783 billion in sales and employ 14.4 million in good-paying jobs, according to the Nati...  
24 Partnerships – They’re Not Always the Obvious Choice file Monika Jun 06, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association I’ve written extensively about the need to collaborate with organizations that share the same business interests. Whether a business partner’s mission is within your organization’s ...  
23 How Important is a Proactive Crisis Plan? Your Business Could Depend on it. Monika May 05, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association   With the spate of negative media headlines surrounding restaurants that have experienced foodborne or human-contact illness, it is critically important that every eating establis...  
22 Where Have the Teens Gone? file Monika Apr 04, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It used to be that almost every teenager had a job in the hospitality industry. With flexible hours and class-friendly scheduling, our industry was the perfect landing spot for high...  
21 The Real Cost of Foodborne Illness file Monika Feb 02, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association Our food supply system, while infinitely safer and better regulated than most other parts of the world, still has its challenges. We’ve all seen the headlines and recalls from E. co...