Student Spotlight: Ryan Alack, ProStart Student
Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Ryan Alack, ProStart Student

Funded through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, ProStart is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. This leading culinary and hospitality certification program serves over 1,500 youth in Louisiana and was one of six recipients of the Foundation’s 2016 spring grants.

In recognition of this notable educational program, we’re spotlighting one of ProStart’s standout students and soon-to-be graduates.


Currently a senior at Hammond High Magnet School in Hammond, Louisiana, Ryan Alack became involved in the ProStart program after hearing about it through his family’s culinary supplies business the summer before his junior year.

“My dad runs his own culinary supplies superstore, so I’ve been around the industry my whole life,” said Ryan. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet many great chefs, and I draw inspiration from them all.”

By bringing together the industry and the classroom, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents to open doors for fulfilling careers. Through a curriculum that includes all aspects of the restaurant business, the ProStart program sets a high standard of excellence for students while teaching invaluable lessons throughout.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned in ProStart is that there is nothing more important than teamwork in the kitchen,” said Ryan. “Without an effective and cooperative team, even the best chef won’t be able to accomplish much.

In addition to a challenging curriculum, students are also able to compete in ProStart competitions outside of the classroom. The competitions focus on restaurant management and culinary arts and invite 350 students annually to put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders with hopes of winning scholarships to prestigious culinary programs.

“The ProStart program has shown me that I have the world at my fingers, and I’m not limited to Hammond, or Louisiana, or even the USA,” said Ryan. “When I graduate I plan on going to culinary school to get a Bachelors degree in culinary arts, hopefully at my dream school, the Culinary Institute of America.”

The end goal of the program is the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement, which students earn by completing the program, passing two national exams and accumulating 400 hours of work experience with a mentor. Students who complete the program and earn their certificate are eligible for NRAEF scholarship opportunities and course credits at more than 75 of the country’s leading hospitality and culinary arts colleges and universities.

By giving students the skills and resources needed for a competitive launch into the country’s leading hospitality and culinary arts schools, ProStart is molding future culinary leaders across the country.

“The great chefs of today are my inspiration to be my best,” said Ryan. “I don’t strive to one day be as great as them, I strive to be better – and in learning all I can and always trying my hardest, I believe I can achieve that.”

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation is proud to support organizations like ProStart that are enabling students like Ryan to develop skills and a strong foundation for a career in the culinary industry. Learn more about how you can get involved and support causes making a difference here.