BHS cooks up culinary program
It's now so much more than just powdered biscuits.
High school cooking classes aren't what they used to be, which is evident by Baldwin High School's newest cooking program the culinary class.
"This has been a real transition for us the last couple of years in our culinary department," said Anita Faddis, BHS family and consumer science teacher. "We've gone from a foods lab with aprons to a more professional setting. I think it is so exciting."
The culinary department, which is in its first year at BHS, offers something different from the traditional cooking classes, Faddis said.
"It has evolved into a more professional curriculum," she said.
Not only do the students learn how to prepare a number of dishes, she said they also learn about plate presentation, nutritional value, cooking terminology, expenses, how to use garnishes, how to fold napkins professionally and how to present food in the best possible light.
"It gives them pride and insight into food preparation," she said.
Another aspect not previously offered in other cooking classes, Faddis said, is help from the National and Kansas Restaurant Association. The Restaurant Association, which provides the ProStart School to Career curriculum the students use, helps the department by providing opportunities like food demonstrations, job shadowing and mentoring, college credit and scholarships.
"They have offered a lot of support and opportunities," she said. "It has been a real resource. It's a good example of an industry being involved in education."
She said another advantage of the culinary department is the chance for students to continue to pursue the class as a career after high school.
"It gives them so many opportunities," she said. "Gone are the days you don't think of it as a career."
But that doesn't limit the people who can enroll in the class, Faddis said.
"Not everyone's going to be a chef," she said. "But these are skills that no matter what they decide to do in life, they are important."
BHS sophomore Adam Smith said he has always enjoyed cooking, which is why he decided to get involved in the culinary department. Now he uses what he has learned at home.
"I cook at home all the time," Smith said. "I maybe cook three or four nights a week now."
Kortney Voss, BHS sophomore, said she is continuing her cooking experience with the culinary program.
"I was in cooking in 4-H and I got purples all the time," she said. "I really like to cook."
Faddis said the students have already had good learning opportunities this year, including getting a demonstration from a Marriott chef who helped them prepare for a cooking competition.
"He really helped us turn the corner," she said.
The students also competed in the Taste of Kansas ProStar Student Chef Invitational at the end of November where they demonstrated their knife skills and prepared a meal in 90 minutes.
For their efforts, the students placed third and received $1,500 scholarships.
"It was a really neat experience," she said.
The high school students aren't the only ones that are learning new cooking methods, Faddis said. Teachers are also having to adjust.
"We do have to be retrained," she said. "We're just old home economics teachers. This is just new thinking for us."
Faddis spent last summer at the Overland Park Marriott completing an internship with the banquet department.
"I experienced everything in banquets and catering," she said.
This summer she will continue her studies at Oklahoma State University.
But she said the extra work and training for both teachers and students have been worth it.
"We are offering a new approach to food preparation," Faddis said. "It has been fun. I already have people asking me to sign up for the culinary program next year."