March 14, 2018
CONTACT: Alycia Harshfield
(POMONA) – As high school kids from around California compete in the 2018 CA ProStart Cup this weekend, the spotlight will also be on Dominique Valenzuela, an alumnus of La Quinta High School who has gone on to become the Executive Pastry Chef at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa.
Valenzuela, who graduated from La Quinta High School’s ProStart culinary program in 2006 and studied at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, is now the first ProStart® alum to come back to the competition as a judge.
Among his accomplishments, Valenzuela is credited with creating a unique, life-size gingerbread house, proudly displayed inside the lobby at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. He also is the artist behind a 10-pound, three-foot-wide, one-foot-tall, pink doughnut that guests of the JW Marriott can order from room service! See his work at these links, as covered by The Desert Sun and Los Angeles Magazine.
The 2018 CA ProStart Cup is a fast-paced, high-stakes culinary arts and restaurant management competition: high school students from all over Southern California and the state are competing not only for trophies, but for much-needed scholarships. The event takes place this Sunday and Monday, March 18-19 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel in Pomona and is presented by BJ’s Restaurants and hosted by the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF.)
“Dominique is exactly the person our students need to meet,” said CRAF Executive Director, Alycia Harshfield. “He worked hard in high school and in culinary school and managed to land one of the industry’s dream jobs as an executive chef at a prominent hospitality company. We’re proud have him back as a judge, more than 12 years after he took part in ProStart as a student at La Quinta High School.”
The two-day event will also feature celebrity Chef Jet Tila as keynote speaker. Tila, who grew up in his family’s restaurant kitchens and markets in Los Angeles, is now a successful chef and author who has made regular appearances on TV’s Iron Chef America, Guy’s Grocery Games, Chopped, the Rachael Ray Show, and on Anthony Bourdain’s Part’s Unknown.
Attached, please find a photo of Dominique Valenzuela and detailed information about this weekend’s 2018 CA ProStart Cup.