It's the hottest classroom - The Explorer: El Sol

It's the hottest classroom

Mountain View High School, JTED District #11 have joined for a bigger, better culinary arts class

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Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:31 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

The smell of bacon wafts through the kitchen, past the students rolling and cutting cinnamon rolls, right on by other students creating crêpe filling, and full circle to students chopping ham for the omelet bar.

As an assignment in their culinary arts class, students prepared the meal for the superintendent's breakfast. The class, held at Mountain View High School, is now joined with Joint Technological Education District #11.

When students, like Mountain View senior Matthew Schneider, aren't making breakfast for the district's faculty, they are working on any number of things throughout the school year.

"Every day really changes, it just depends on when events we are doing," Schneider said. "We could be doing something like two days ago we did lunch wraps for a JTED meeting or big events like this, which involves more prep time and time in the kitchen getting ready."

Spread throughout the kitchen, more than a dozen students were busy making breakfast for about 150 people who are part of the district's support staff and administration.

"I took the food nutrition class my sophomore year just because I thought it would be fun and something I might enjoy," Schneider said. "I really picked it up and loved it right off the bat. I took it to the next grade level and kept going with it. I started working in the industry, and just got my foot in the door and have loved every minute of it."

Schneider is currently working in the kitchen at The Gallery in Dove Mountain.

Laurel Krinke, an instructor for JTED, has been teaching the culinary arts program at Mountain View for the past few years. JTED and the Marana Unified School District joined up about a year ago to expand the program. Before then, the class was taught in a small home economics kitchen with a few pieces of commercial equipment.

"The health department would come in and say 'you need a 3-compartment sink', or 'you would need this' or 'you need that'," Krinke said. "So then we would take out one of those little kitchens and we would stuff some more things in there."

Now, Krinke and the students have a 10,000-square-foot facility filled with top-of-the-line kitchen equipment within an advanced culinary arts kitchen and a beginner culinary arts kitchen. Sitting between the two is a large dining room. There is an early childhood education classroom within the building, and a preschool that will be opening next year.

Now, about 125 students are enrolled in the culinary arts class offered through JTED on the Mountain View campus, where students are also getting Pima Community College credit for their work both in the beginning and advanced cooking classes.

Students like junior Nate Hancock have the desire to apply their culinary arts experiences to a possible career down the road, fulfilling a desire to run a bakery or pastry restaurant.

Following his passion through pastries, he made a plate of cookies for a panel of judges who were going to evaluate senior projects in the library later that day. He carried his plate filled with handmade peanut butter, sugar, chocolate fudge cookies and cinnamon wraps.

"It's a lot harder to make something that a good majority of people like and something that tastes good," Hancock said. "I like to cook and eat pie – apple pie. I put a lot of effort into it as far as trying to make it look as nice as possible and taste the best that it can."

Students enrolled in the class also compete with other culinary classes and schools with an Iron Chef-type competition where there is a mystery ingredient. They also compete in the Family Career and Community Leaders of America culinary arts competition, and in a Career in Culinary Arts Program competition.

The new facility will play host to the regional FCCLA competition in early February.

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