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Jemison High training young chefs

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

The students in Raynette Ellison’s culinary arts class donned their hairnets, chefs’ hats and gloves before entering the school’s commercial kitchen on Jan. 27.

The appliances and cookware still shined after only two years at the school. In that time the program has been very successful, according to Ellison. Her students recently won second place in the county beef cook-off.

Ninth through 12th grade students can participate in the series of classes, which starts with ServSafe training to learn food safety.

In Culinary I, the second class of the available three, students learn knife skills, cooking processes and the workflow of a kitchen.

Ellison said the class only has an hour and fifteen minutes to cook each day.

“We have to rush and I have to do some prep work for them sometimes, but they’re really good,” Ellison said. “They take on the challenge and they usually come through.”

Ellison’s students have catered for a few local events. She said the class does not make any money from doing this. The students gain experience and the events have to help provide the materials to be cooked.

On Jan. 27, a class of Culinary I students were preparing a large batch of pecan lace cookies for the upcoming Flutter fundraiser by Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center.

They broke off into teams of four to six students and each worked at their stations mixing ingredients, laying out the cookies and then placing them into convection ovens.

The first pan of cookies was done after about five minutes in the oven. Once the rest of the treats were put in the oven, the students broke out into their groups again and started doing their assigned kitchen chores for the day.

The goal of the series of classes is to prepare students to do anything they could be expected to in a restaurant kitchen.

“If they go on to culinary school, they’ll have a background for that,” Ellison said. “Or they can go ahead and get a job in the workforce in the foodservice industry.”