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Be Our Guest--Culinary Classes Cook Up a World of Learning

From left to right: senior Dexter Mitchell, teacher Christina Flores, senior Jonathon Connor, and junior Adam Liddeke prepare their Super Bowl feast. (Photo by Riley Cockram)

By Emily Southern--Eagle Staff Writer

Many CTE courses offered on campus prepare students for a life in the trades. However, Christina Flores’ three levels of culinary classes teach Eagles skills for culinary school as well as everyday life.

This comes in handy, as not all students are interested in pursuing cooking or baking as a career.

“I thought I wanted to be a chef. Turns out I don’t, but I’m still really enjoying the class,” senior Hannah Lynch stated. “People get to actually learn how to make something instead of just opening a box and popping it in the oven.”

Others hoped to learn about how culture relates to food.

“I wanted to see more into the American culture since I am Latina. I wanted to see what the difference was between both cultures and their foods,” stated senior Louisiana Santos.

Flores herself is using her class time to learn along with her students.

“I'm not a classically trained chef,” she admitted. “One day I would like to take a few more classes specifically for our school to try and build up our program. As the program builds, I am trying to build up my skills too. I think it is very important that the students know that I am not a trained chef so we are able to learn together,” said Flores.

Regardless, Flores and her class have several sweet, savory, and even sour dishes saved under their chef's hats, each with their own tasty theme.

“We normally do foods around holidays or events so a lot of times that is where students get most creativity,” Flores described. “So if you are working at an event or the restaurant industry, a lot of time you have to have themes. I like to get students into a creative mode or mindset and then let them be able to come up with all the ideas that they can and then narrow it down.”

For example, this year the culinary class did a Super Bowl themed event.

Senior Isaiah Jordan checks on his tasty touchdown treats. (Photo by Riley Cockram)

Lynch listed the items on the game day menu: “Jalapeno poppers, wings, fries, fried pickles, sparkly pineapple lemonade, blue raspberry lemonade, brownies, and cupcakes."

Lynch, Santos, and their peers were able to find recipes that they thought would work for these dishes which Flores approved to make sure everything worked out.

“For these Super Bowl recipes, the students actually found them. I normally have a recipe in mind and as long as their recipe that they have found is similar to what I have in mind and the students understand all of the recipes and techniques then they are fine to use that recipe,” Flores clarified.

This doesn’t just apply to Super Bowl foods, however, as students have chosen other recipes to follow from scratch.

“We’ve made pancake art, pancakes from scratch, and Valentine’s Day boxes,” senior Anastasia Preston stated.

The Valentine’s Day boxes Preston mentioned were sold to others in the school or given to loved ones.

“We were able to sell about 10 boxes for Valentine's Day and 5 for St. Patrick's Day,” Flores tallied. “We feel that this was a successful activity because this was a last minute idea that everyone loved. We had the opportunity to help out staff and learn about making theme treats for customers.”

Other activities, while still fun according to students, focus more on ability.

Instead of just popping frozen wings in the oven, the culinary class portioned, cut, seasoned, and cooked wings from scratch. (Photo by Riley Cockram)

“You can learn some basic life skills in this class. It’s surprising the level of common knowledge in the kitchen so many people don’t know until they take this class,” Santos shared. “We have fresh chicken we’re going to learn how to cut properly, season, sauce, and cook.”

The knowledge Santos will graduate high school with is exactly the kind of experience Flores hopes she gives to all students.

“For me, I want you to feel comfortable in the kitchen. I want you to figure out what type of food you enjoy. I think broadening that mindset is really important. Whether or not you are going into a [culinary] career, if you're going to college or if you are going to stay at home, you need food. You have to eat, so you might as well learn how to make it for yourself,” Flores finished.

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