Look what’s cooking at the Career Center

The Culinary Arts and Sciences class offers head start for students looking into a culinary based career

The+logo+on+the+cooking+class+at+the+Career+Centers%27+personal+food+truck

The logo on the cooking class at the Career Centers’ personal food truck

Senior Frida Angeles starts her day by getting on the bus, but instead of getting off at school like most students, Angeles rides it to the Career Center. Once there, she passes through the cafeteria and enters the culinary arts classroom, which resembles a commercial kitchen. Angeles puts on her striped pants, white jacket and black chef’s hat. She is now ready for Level Two Culinary Arts and Sciences with Chef Renee Randolph.

“We’re actually training our students to go work in the industry and not just be entry level positions,” said Chef Randolph. “We want them to be managers.”

The Career Center is an opportunity for students looking for more career-based skills than those typically offered at their home school. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are welcome to join classes each day, at no cost to their families. One such class is Culinary Arts and Sciences. This course not only gives students hands on experience in the kitchen, but it also shows them what it would be like to work in many other parts of the food industry. 

  “They learn not only how to cook food well, but also about safety and sanitation, how to cost out recipes, how much to charge to make a profit, how to build schedules… we run a restaurant,” said Chef Randolph.

While taking the same course as Angeles, senior Lucas McMillan attends Arlington Tech full time and is a Third Level culinary student. This means he has been taking the class for three years and is at the most advanced level offered. This class is not entirely focused on cooking though; it incorporates math, science, management and learning to work in a fast-paced environment in order to prepare students for their careers at a young age. 

“I chose to take this course because I am one day interested in owning a bar, and its culinary and hospitality [centered],” McMillan said.

Rather than become a small business owner like McMillan, Angeles plans to further her culinary education before deciding on a specific occupation. She explained she would be applying for the Careers through Culinary Arts Program Scholarship (C-CAP), aimed towards aspiring youth interested in the culinary field. C-CAP also helps to integrate trainees like herself with internship and advisory opportunities. 

“[If you do C-CAP] you apply your knowledge [from] here, there,” said Angeles.

For those interested, there is a similar option at home schools, however, it serves a wider range of subjects and is less in depth than one than offered at the Career Center. There are a variety of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) classes offered at the school. Food and Fitness, Fashion careers, and Interior Design all fall under the category of FACS. Food and Fitness is most similar to the Career Center class, however, it is aimed more at home-based cooking rather than cooking professionally.

“Family and Consumer Sciences classes are like an introduction, our program is for kids who really are interested in actually working in the industry,” Chef Randolph said.

 Off the Pike is one example of the unique experiences gained by taking this Career Center class. It is a student-run restaurant held at the Career Center every other month with different culinary levels of students running different departments. This allows students to understand interactions within a restaurant, ranging from being a manager to a waiter, as well as fundraise for the classroom.

“Even if you’re working [outside of school], I think this class helps you a lot because it gives you more information about what to do or not to do,” Angeles said. 

The restaurant is now expanding with the addition of a new food truck. After spending the last year and a half raising $19,000, the truck is now parked in the back of the school. While not yet in use, the team’s plan is to get it up and running by the end of October,  2019. 

“[The Culinary Arts and Sciences students] worked hard,” said Chef Randolph. “They set the goal, they saved the money, they bought the trailer… it’s their trailer.” 

Students in Career Center classes take their provided school bus to the Career Center each day. These classes offer a unique way for students to prepare for the future. According to Chef Randolph, about 25 percent of her students ultimately go into the food industry and she would like that number to grow.

“We like to cook, that’s why we’re here,” said Wakefield senior Isaiah Wells.