Local Teens Graduate Culinary Program with International Dinner
Source: Santa Barbara City Parks and Recreation Department
On April 6, thirty high school students were part of a graduation ceremony from a 4-month program run by the City Parks and Recreation Department, ‘Introduction to the Culinary Arts.’
Jolly Brothers Catering sponsors the course with hands on training and has played a pivotal role in the course for 9 years, with owner and chef Donald Hardin volunteering in leading the curriculum. The program was also supported this year by Chef Martin Renteria from Cody’s Café.
The teen culinary arts program follows a curriculum that includes an extensive introduction to local fruits and vegetables, cake making/decorating, bread making, canning, international recipes, table setting, service fine dining, cooking, and catering. Students are taken on several fieldtrips during the course, including touring a cruise ship and sampling the cuisine. The program is free and is aimed at senior high school students as a way of providing culinary arts and food management experience. No prior knowledge of the food industry is required, and most students going into the program have a limited education of food.
This program allows them to both work with and try out new dishes, as well as gain a foundational knowledge of cooking and catering. “But, says Chef Hardin, This is more than a program about food – the students learn numerous skills including discipline, budgeting, problem solving, teamwork, and how to work under pressure. The students are able to walk away with a sense of self-worth and achievement.”
On April 6, family and friends gathered at the Westside Community Center to participate in the culmination of the course. An evening of delicious dishes from around the world was prepared and served by the students. A variety of appetizers like Purple Potato with Horseradish and Crème Fraiche were served buffet style. Plated dinners featuring Chicken Marsala was followed by a slideshow showing highlights of the journey. Each student received a special recognition with community service hours accumulated, and a binder of 40 recipes they used during the classes.
Anita Dominocielo-Ho, Santa Barbara city volunteer and program coordinator, told the audience, “the students are armed and ready to bake cakes for all of your family occasions, prepare family dinners, and host family events!”
Some students such as Luis Perez have already been hired by Hibachi Steak House and Sushi Bar as a sushi cook. Others have been hired by the program chefs for their private businesses. Several students want to return next year to improve their skills and to help the first-year students.
Over 125 family, friends, and supporters attended the fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting future culinary courses. The chef jackets they wore and the food they used was funded by the students who worked the 2018 fundraiser. Now these 2019 students are proud that they can “pay it forward” by raising funds for the students of the 2020 class.