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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.
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.