Gainesville’s Eastside High School Wins Second Place at High Stakes National Culinary Arts and Restaurant Business Competition

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – High school students from Gainesville and Tampa, who are enrolled in the Florida ProStart program, tested their mettle in a sophisticated, real-world culinary and business management competition focused on the restaurant and foodservice sector. Held April 29-May 1 in Dallas, Texas, the National ProStart Invitational challenged student teams from secondary schools across the nation to create a three-course meal, while corresponding teams presented business proposals for an original restaurant concept.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Educational Foundation is thrilled to announce Gainesville’s Eastside High School placed second in the nationwide competition. The school’s management team developed a business proposal for opening and operating a restaurant, and were asked to solve the types of daily challenges faced by restaurant managers. The team was evaluated by an expert panel of industry judges. Tampa’s A.P. Leto High School participated in the culinary portion of the competition, showcasing their creative abilities through the preparation of an appetizer, entrée and dessert in 60 minutes.

“We are so proud of our students who are incredibly talented, passionate about hospitality and worked tirelessly all year,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “They are Florida’s all-stars and certainly proved they can compete on the national stage. We are glad to support these students, the future of our industry.”

Participating teams were as follows:

Eastside High School’s Management Team
Instructors: Billie DeNunzio and Pam Bedford
Students: Jayla Herring, Isaiah Smith, Erin Livingston, Kelsey Nimmons and Brandon McDonald

Leto High School’s Culinary Team
Instructor: Debra Hladky
Students: Angel Nieves, Juraima Pena, Alexandrea Vargas, Elissia LaPorte and Fernando Hernandez

In total, there are 238 schools who participate in the Florida ProStart program, a program crafted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). ProStart unites industry and secondary school classrooms to train students with the skills that help them achieve long-term and rewarding careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Research indicates that students and educators agree that ProStart is effective in teaching culinary skills as well as restaurant management theory and practice, including critical employability skills such as teamwork, communication and professional behavior. 70 percent of students enrolled in ProStart programs indicate they plan to pursue post-secondary education.

For more information on the National ProStart Invitational, visit For more information on Florida’s ProStart program please click here.


About the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
FRLA is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Our mission is to ‘Protect, Educate and Promote’ Florida’s $82 billion hospitality industry which represents 23% of Florida’s economy and more than 1.1 million employees – making it the state’s number one industry. We offer regulatory compliance and food safety training needs (RCS and SafeStaff®); industry developed career-building high school programs (FRLAEF); sponsor the only event in Florida exclusively serving the restaurant and foodservice industry (FR&L Show, September 27-29, 2016 in Orlando); and we safeguard the needs of the hospitality industry by providing legislative advocacy. We represent and serve more than 10,000 independent and household name members, suppliers, and theme parks. For more information, go to and find us on Twitter @FRLAnews, Facebook and YouTube.