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ProStart Educators Recognized by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation

Thursday, May 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Forty-two Culinary and Restaurant Management Educators from Across the Nation Celebrated at the National Restaurant Association Show.  ProStart Educator Mike Chrostowski from Olathe District Schools Takes Top Honors


Wichita, KS – May 24, 2017 – The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (KRHAEF) announced the winners of the 2017 ProStart® Educator of Excellence Awards for outstanding achievement in high school culinary and restaurant management education. There were 42 total educators recognized for their excellence in education from across the country.


The 2017 ProStart Educators of Excellence Awardee from Kansas:

Mike Chrostowski 

Olathe Public Schools

What do iconic restaurants like Eleven Madison Park (rated the best restaurant in the world), the French Laundry, Charlie Trotters, Mercantile (Denver’s #1 restaurant, Mass Street Fish House in Lawrence, and other top-rated restaurants have in common? Aside from the obvious (great food, outstanding service and difficult-to-get reservations) its Mike Chrostowski. His students have gone on to become valued employees at these and other fine restaurants. How does a young woman from Kansas become part of the team writing the Eleven Madison Park cookbook? How does a Kansas kid earn his 3rd level sommelier credential and become brand ambassador for a top California winery? How can a 22-year-old Kansan who didn’t have a clue what he wanted to do just five years ago end up with a bachelor’s degree, almost no student debt and a sought-after job at one of Denver’s top restaurants? How does a young man earn his culinary degree from the New England Culinary Institute, work at some of the top Kansas City area restaurants and become an Executive Chef all by the age of 27. And how does a how does a quiet mid-westerner land positions, seemingly with ease, working with legends like Thomas Keller and the late Charlie Trotter? The answer is Mike Chrostowski. His students describe him as “an instructor, a leader and a role model who works hard to better the lives of his students. He taught us the discipline of working in the kitchen: how to have a sense of urgency, hot to manage ourselves and others, how to be creative with our cooking-skills that make or break you in this industry, skills that give you respect in a kitchen and put you on the path to becoming the next best chef in America.” If that last statement sounds ambitious, it is. With a teacher like Mike Chrostowski, it’s absolutely achievable.

ProStart® is the NRAEF’s nationwide high school program that unites classroom and industry to develop the talent of tomorrow’s workforce. In Kansas, the program is managed by the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association Educational Foundation (KRHAEF). The program reaches more than 1,600 students in 27 high schools across Kansas.

“Every year I am amazed at the wonderful educators who make our ProStart program possible, and it is exciting to honor the best of the best who go above and beyond to inspire the next generation of foodservice leaders,” said Neeley Carlson, Vice President of the KRHAEF. “Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners. We are lucky to have you on our team, educating our future industry leaders and restaurant entrepreneurs.”

Selected from the 2017 ProStart Educator of Excellence Award winners, the NRAEF and Golden Corral Corporation are also proud to announce that the 2017 recipients of the James H. Maynard Excellence in Education Award are Mike Chrostowski of Olathe Public Schools (Kansas) and Steven Oubre of Woodlawn High School (Louisiana).



From left to right: Rob Gifford, Lance Trenary, Judy Irwin, Steven Oubre, Mike Chrostowski, and Greg Hamer. 


Established over a decade ago as a tribute to Golden Corral’s founder, James Maynard, the James H. Maynard Excellence in Education Award honors two select ProStart educators for their tireless dedication to providing remarkable experiences to their ProStart students. Both honorees received a plaque and a gift of $5,000, presented by Judy Irwin, Vice President of Human Resources and Training for Golden Corral, and Lance Trenary, President and CEO of Golden Corral, at a special gala dinner.
“Golden Corral has been a longtime supporter of the ProStart program and we are thrilled to honor these incredible educators who help students make their dreams a reality,” said Lance Trenary.
The 2017 Educator of Excellence Award Winners were honored at a gala dinner in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with the 2017 National Restaurant Association’s Hotel-Motel Show® that took place May 20-23.


About the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association
The Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, founded in 1929, is the leading business association for restaurants, hotels, motels, country clubs, private clubs and allied business in Kansas. Along with the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association Education Foundation, the association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry of hospitality in Kansas. For more information about the KRHA, visit

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce.  NRAEF programs include:  ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide “opportunity youth” with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and, the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship Project – a partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association providing a  hospitality apprenticeship program for the industry. For more information on the NRAEF, visit