FDHS culinary arts program cooking up a storm

  • Saturday, April 26, 2014

Monica Kreber/Journal Scene From left, Fort Dorchester students Sarah O’Connor, Chelsie Heffner and Savannah Snover work on a chocolate souffle assignment in their culinary arts class.

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Visitors at Evelyn Brown’s culinary arts class at Fort Dorchester High School earlier this week were greeted with an aroma of breakfast – enough to make their stomachs growl.

At the front of her class Brown gave a demonstration to her Culinary Arts I students, showing them the different ways to prepare an egg for breakfast.

She then made hashbrowns from scratch while her students jotted down notes.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen section of her classroom, Culinary Arts II students worked on 200 cupcakes that were going to be presented at DD2’s Star Performer of the Year celebration on April 24. When the entire Culinary Arts II class arrived shortly after 11 a.m. they broke into groups of three and began to create chocolate soufflés in a custard sauce.

The classes stay busy – inside and outside of the classroom. At FDHS it is about to get even busier; the two classes are already year-round, but the culinary arts program is expanding into a four-year program.

Brown said this summer a new culinary arts wing will be constructed to accommodate this growing program – and she is getting excited. “It’s pretty big,” she said. “It gets the kids focused on everything that relates to the kids wanting to be in the hospitality and tourism industry.”

In FDHS’s culinary arts program students are taught the skills needed for employment in both entry-level and semi-skilled positions in the aforementioned industries. The focus of the training is to fulfill business needed for employment in restaurants, hotels, delis, bakers, hospitals, child-care facilities, retirement homes, public schools and colleges.

The students learn customer service, the use of food service tools and equipment, safety and sanitation, menu management, food production techniques and career and employability. The new four-year program will offer internship and externship opportunities.

Students in Culinary Arts I and II already submerge themselves in putting their classroom skills to the test. Students are required to fulfill a number of service hours (15 for the first class and 30 for the second), though students say many volunteering opportunities are offered through the class – including district events such as the Star Performer celebration.

Culinary Arts II students Sarah O’Connor and Savannah Snover, both juniors, said the second-level class focuses more on food presentation.

“I like the freedom in the class,” O’Connor said. “It’s not sitting in a class, staring at the teacher all day long. It’s doing what we came here to do.”

O’Connor hopes to one day be a chef and Snover wants to one day get into baking and pastries.

“I’m a better cook now, for sure,” Snover said. “The experience is really good.”

In the Culinary Arts I class juniors Gil Rios and Julia Speights said they have done “quite a bit” of recipes.

“We did a lot of cookies at the beginning to get started,” Rios said. “It’s more or less easy if you know what you are doing.”

The kitchen inside the classroom is equipped to match a professional kitchen. Rios and Speights said their favorite part of the class is the actual cooking. Speights said she also does not mind the fundraising and volunteering events.

“Most of the time the events are pretty interesting,” she said.

Brown said she feels the fundraising and volunteer opportunities for her students gives them a chance to learn how to interact with customers.

“It’s mass production,” she said. “It’s about presentation and communication skills. It makes them have to look at a customer and talk to them.”

The student chefs are also competitive. Under the direction of Brown the culinary arts team is competing in the national FCCLA STAR Events Culinary Arts Competition in San Antonio, Texas this summer. Students have also been granted scholarships to join Trident Technical College’s own culinary arts program.

Through the four-year program students can earn up to 15 credit hours and also become Serv-Safe certified.

“I think it’s really nice,” Brown said. “I think it’ll grow the program and they’ll be so prepared to know if they want a career in hospitality and tourism.”

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