ProStart Hospitality Program

There is always something going on over here in the culinary world.  I wanted to give you an update.  With my Enhanced ProStart program and sponsorship , I was given the opportunity to take a few students to Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, Ca. for a ProStart training December 11th- December 15th.  The trip included some required Culinary and Management training, workshops, CIA demos and tours, financial aid workshops,  meeting with industry managers and chefs, and Hotel and Restaurant meetings and tours.  The field trip was designed to expose them to the industry they plan to pursue after high school and prepare them for their spring State competition.

It also gave them the opportunity to network, be exposed to some of their post-secondary educational options, and apply what we have been learning in class in a real-world environment.  It is this kind of hands-on learning that aligns with the standards and objectives of a Career and Technical Education based class.  We were able to meet with general managers and executive chefs from very well know and established restaurants including The Kitchen Door, Bottega, The Waterbar in San Francisco, Goose and Gander, and even Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.

Since then, my ProStart students have been actively practicing and preparing for their upcoming State ProStart Management and Culinary Competition.  We have been practicing most evenings, and are here all day Saturdays.  Please feel free to drop in and watch, or sample, if you happen to be around, We can always use the feedback. This year, I have three culinary teams and one management team competing in Sacramento!  We will be traveling via van(s) up North for the exciting event in March.  As my program at Bonita High School grows, more students have become involved in dedicating hours and hours of time outside of class to prepare and compete in the ProStart competition.  10 Bonita High School students will be traveling- with all their equipment and gear- to the competition from March 10-March 14.  Currently, the students involved are:

  • Daniel E. (doing culinary AND management!)
  • Jasmine S. (doing culinary AND management!)
  • Alberto V.
  • Madison J.
  • Christian R.
  • Drake R.
  • August D.
  • Adelina M.
  • Cody L.
  • Elizabeth L.

Because of the amount of students involved, it has become difficult to find the funding to sustain four teams.  My competition students have started a GoFund Me Campaign to help raise money for their competition.  If you can, take a moment to check it out.  Any amount, no matter how small, will help.  Please feel free to forward to anyone that you think may be interested and willing to help out!  If you can, please post on your social media sites.  I REALLY appreciate it!

We are also working on an fundraising event with Pappas Artisanal in downtown La Verne for Wednesday,  February 24th and Wednesday, March 2nd from 5pm-9pm. Buy a presale ticket from myself or one of my students for only $10 (will be $15 at the door) and you get your choice of:

  • – Bonita Cheese Burger / quarter pound certified angus, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, onion, white cheddar served with homemade kettle chips
  • – La Verne Bacon Dog / quarter pound beef dog, bacon bits, grilled onions, nacho cheese served with homemade kettle chips
  • – Chef’s Nachos / fresh corn chips, grilled onions, nacho cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, bacon bits

Pappas has been actively involved in my program since they opened in La Verne 2 ½ years ago.  Several ProStart students have worked there, 1 even moving up to running brunch service in the kitchen.  They have also provided internships, senior project hours, and stages for my students, as well as given them tours of the restaurant and talked with them about getting in the industry.  This past October, owners Matt Fong and Chef Travis Flood (along with former BHS ProStart student Kevin Fukatani- also a chef at Pappa’s), came to BHS to lead a 3 hour workshop for my students on soft skills and job search training during the CRAEF sponsored event F.I.T. (Force In Training).  We have been fortunate to have them involved in my program and take an interest in educating our students.  Please make it a family night and join us!  My ProStart Competition students will grilling, running the cash register, and serving.

Last week, I took a combination of ProStart and Intro to Foods student to volunteer at the LA Foodbank.  They were split into two groups.  One group worked in the cooler room, which was below 38 degrees, sorting  and boxing food for the 3 hours.  They were able to sort 16,088 pounds of food.  The other group worked in the main warehouse sorting, boxing, and organizing food.  They were able to get 33,186 pounds of food.  Together, they did enough to make over 29,000 meals.  I was so impressed with their team work, positive attitudes, and their ability to get it done.

During the next few months, we will be having students from Roynon Elementary come over for a cooking lab with my classes.  My students will get the opportunity to work with students from K, 1st, 2nd, and 5th grade teaching them how to make pizza from scratch.  We have been doing this for that past few years, and it is always a favorite day for my students and the elementary students.  Please feel free to come by and watch!

In May we will be having our Annual Cooking Competition held in room 601.  Some of the best from all my classes will get the opportunity to showcase what they have learned in a competitive atmosphere.  I encourage you to stop by to watch, and taste, some of their creations!  I reach out to industry chefs to judge the competition and give the students feedback.

We are also working with Mr. Archibald on catering this year’s senior boards lunches!  It is a great opportunity for my students to get some catering experience it.  We are looking forward to it.  If you have an event you are hosting, and are on a budge, please feel free to contact us.  Hopefully we can collaborate to make your event a success.

I appreciate your flexibility and support when it comes to my students, and my program.

Mrs. Laurie Brandler
ProStart Hospitality Instructor
Intro Foods/ Culinary Instructor
Bonita High School
909-971-8220 ext. 2601