Opening a restaurant in the near future? If so, a group of Baldwin High School students could help you plan nearly every aspect of your business.
They designed a wood-fired oven pizzeria at the recent annual Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association’s ProStart Student Invitational in Wichita. And they impressed the judges enough to win the management team competition.
Connor Wright, Lauren Barnes, Rachael Enick, April Hostetler and alternate Adrienne Yost are state champions. Fifteen high schools entered the competition.
“They were really critical on our feedback, so we didn’t think we did that well,” Wright said. “I guess we ended up winning, so that was sweet. It was really unexpected.”
Next up for the BHS students is a trip to the National ProStart Invitational April 24-26 in San Diego.
Planning a pizzeria
For one element of the state competition, students were given a $1.5 million budget to design a restaurant. Their plan had to include a building layout, staffing, marketing ideas, menu and three pictures of food they would serve. Hostetler said it was a time-consuming process.
The group kicked around several ideas. Then Barnes suggested a wood-fired oven pizzeria.
“When we first started talking about it, we thought a pizza place would be good for families and for college students, too,” Barnes said. “Then we came up with something that would make it different with the wood-fired oven.”
They spent countless hours researching marketing, design and other elements of the industry. Then came time to present their project to a panel of four judges at the state competition.
“It’s nerve-racking because you’ve got four people who actually own restaurants in there listening to you, and you’re just a teenager trying to propose a restaurant,” Hostetler said. “It was cool that they were actually interested in our idea. One of the judges actually owns a wood-fired pizza place.”
Another piece of the state competition centered on food preparation. Each team had one hour to prepare a three-course meal.
“I really love to cook, so it’s really fun for me,” Barnes said. “There is practicing involved, just like sports. It’s a different type of competition, but you get your adrenaline going just like you do in sports. You’re competing all the same.”
The BHS students’ dish placed third, just 2.85 points behind the top school, Olathe North, which placed first and second with its two teams.
“The kids did an extraordinary job on the culinary portion,” said Sandra Lawson, BHS family and consumer science teacher. “One judge wrote that we could have won it all, but the kids just did a few minor things wrong. It’s competition, and they were very nervous. I thought they did very well.”