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Western Culinary Institute Inspires High School Students Across the State

Students Compete in Annual ProStart Contest

PORTLAND , ORE. (March 5, 2008) – More than 200 high school students and culinary hopefuls filled the Oregon Convention Center Saturday with the intention of winning the coveted ProStart competition.

The annual event, hosted by the Oregon Restaurant Education Foundation and sponsored by Western Culinary Institute and Boyd 's Coffee, gives students the chance to compete in different culinary and hospitality-focused events. Student teams from 34 high schools around the state competed for top honors, education grants and a coveted trip to the national convention, to be held in sunny San Diego , CA April 24–26.

“I was so impressed by not only the quality of the product, but also the level of professionalism” said Wendy Bennett , vice president of academic affairs at Western Culinary Institute. “These students have obviously put a lot of thought and practice into preparing for the competition.”

Two events highlighted the skills of the students. In the Western Culinary Institute Management Challenge , student teams were tested on their knowledge of customer service and the hospitality industry. The challenge, created by Western Culinary Institute Hospitality & restaurant management program Dean Ray Colvin, presented students with the kind of business-stopping obstacles facing industry professionals every day. The competitors had one hour to come up with a solution and present their plan. In the end, the team from Bend High School took top honors for the third year in a row.

South Salem High student, Irina Shalashova was named the ProStart Student of the Year and helped her team take first place in the Boyd's Coffee Culinary Cup competition.

ProStart seeks to prepare high school students for post-secondary educational opportunities, or entry-level positions in the culinary and hospitality industries. As an active supporter of the ProStart program, Western Culinary Institute has been the title sponsor of the Pro Start Knowledge Bowl for three years.

“Western Culinary Institute has played a crucial role in the ProStart competition,” said Misty Arrambide , Pro Start manager and event organizer. “Their continued support and reputation are a huge asset to the students who participate in the competition.”

Since its inception in 1983, Western Culinary Institute (WCI) has been a popular destination for students preparing for careers in the culinary and hospitality industries. A Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America Affiliate, WCI provides opportunities for students to learn from industry professionals and gain hands-on experience through its degree programs and two onsite, student-run restaurants -- Restaurant Bleu and Café Bleu. Western Culinary Institute offers Associate of Occupational Studies degrees in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking and Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management as well as Diplomas in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts and Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie & Baking. In 2007, the school received a “ School of Distinction ” award from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), which recognizes institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to the expectations and rigors of ACCSCT accreditation, as well as a commitment to delivering innovative educational programs. 2008 marks WCI's 25th anniversary as a Portland , Ore. mainstay with a rich tradition of providing students rewarding educational opportunities. For more information about WCI, its programs, instructors and student life, please visit wci.edu or call (503) 223-2245.

Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America is the largest provider of quality culinary arts education. Few institutions possess the distinguished reputation of Le Cordon Bleu, which established its first culinary school in Paris in 1895. For more information about Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America, go to: www.lecordonbleuschoolsusa.com.

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