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The hum of microwaves and the sound of knives in action on a cutting board echoed off the walls of Englewood High School's Family and Consumer Science kitchen Feb. 10 as students prepared and readied the food to cater a luncheon for coaches and workers at a regional wrestling tournament.
“This is a good experience for our students,” said Sara Davis, program instructor. “We don't usually cater events but the students were here today anyway preparing for the upcoming state competition, so we agreed to do it so the students could get a taste of preparing food for special events.”
The students set up a buffet-style lunch of salad, baked potatoes with all the trimmings and brownies for dessert for representatives of the 12 schools at the tournament.
“The food was very good,” Sam Morris of Steamboat Springs said. “I liked the choices and really enjoyed it. I didn't know the meal was prepared by students and I hope they know they did a very good job.”
Davis said teams of students are preparing for the upcoming Prostart Colorado and National Restaurant Association statewide competitions on March 1-2.
She said a team of students is preparing to compete in the culinary competition and a team is preparing to compete in the management competition.
“In the culinary competition the team of four students work in a 10-foot by 10-foot space, working on two camp stoves to prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert in one hour,” she said. “The second team of up to four students will be competing in the management competition where they must come up with a complete marketing plan for a new restaurant, plus they are required to cook and present two dishes that will be presented to the panel of judges.”
When Englewood High School was completely rebuilt, the project included a fully equipped kitchen for the food industry program, and this is the fifth year Englewood has hosted the technical education classes and the fifth year Davis has been the instructor.
“We are one of 35 Colorado high schools with food industry technical education programs. Students who enroll for the complete program are with us for two years but some only join us for one year. Either way the students receive college credit through Metropolitan State University for the portion of the program they complete,” the instructor said. “We are fortunate to have the best equipped kitchen in the state. We draw students from a number of area schools including Littleton, Sheridan and Heritage.”
There are 60 students enrolled in this year's classes. One student is from Heritage and all the other students are from Englewood schools.
Heritage senior Savannah Smith was told about the program by her high school counselor who knew her goal was to open her own restaurant.
“He said it is a college-level class dedicated to teaching students interested in culinary careers so I signed up,” she said. “None of my family is in the restaurant business but my grandparents taught me about cooking and I grew to love cooking by itself, and I wanted to be the chef on the TV cooking shows.”
She said she learned there would be quite a bit of book work at the introduction meeting for the class.
“It was more book work than I thought it would be but the class more than meets my expectations,” she said. “It is a great learning experience and I know it is a step in the right direction for me.”
She said after graduation she plans to attend Johnson and Wales University in Denver to study baking and pastry.
“I received a scholarship from Johnson and Wales, which is a big help for me,” she said. “I haven't decided what I am going to do when I complete the baking and pastry program. I haven't made plans beyond that point. I guess I'll make those plans when I get closer to completing the pastry and baking program.”
Her classmate Isaiah Martinez said this is his first year in the program.
“Some friends and a teacher told me about the program and urged me to take it so I signed up,” the Englewood High School senior said. “The class exceeded my expectations. I am learning a lot about the technical aspects of culinary arts and I like it that we do a lot of cooking, too.”
He said the most fun he has had so far in the program was when the program prepared and served the food for the Englewood Gala event. He said it was fun preparing the food and serving it, plus he enjoyed walking around and talking to the people.
He said culinary arts aren't in his plans for the future.
“I plan to start out at a community college and then transfer to a university where I plan to major in accounting,” he said. “I also want to take some college catering and cooking classes. I enjoy cooking and I help my mom cook at times. This class has made me a better cook as I learned how to select and follow recipes. So I want to continue to learn more about cooking because it something I like to do.”
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