Washougal High School Advanced Culinary students were put to the test on September 26 when they created and served a special lunch entrée for students and faculty.

In addition to preparing ingredients and cooking the meal, students were asked to market the lunch special using posters, Instagram, announcements, and Twitter.  “This was the first time for many of the students to participate in this type of activity,” said Brenda Hitchins, WHS Culinary Arts teacher.  “They applied organizational skills, teamwork, sanitation, time management, cooking methods, presentation, and making sure everything was cleaned up at the end.”

The lunch offer was “Pasta Pronto” and featured penne pasta with either marinara or alfredo sauces and a choice of other delicious additions such as red onions, sliced olives, fresh spinach, and sausage. “Culinary students sautés the ingredients, toss in penne pasta, and finish with their choice of sauce,” Hitchins explained. “It takes teamwork and coordination as they pass the pan down the line for each step.  The dish is finished and placed in paper boat and topped with a whole wheat breadstick.  Students can add parmesan cheese and chili pepper flakes if they choose.”    Regular school lunch pricing applied.

“Lunch numbers have been low, so we partnered with Mark Jasper of Sodexo to put on this event,” said Hitchins.  “We had a goal to serve more than 230 lunches and we brought the number up to 208.”

“This lunch project was a great opportunity for students to apply what they are learning in class to a real-world situation,” said Margaret Rice, WSD Career and Technical Education Director.  “The experience gave them the chance to serve peers, practice what they know and assess how it went so they can improve upon their skills. We hope this is the first of many opportunities like this.”  Students were required to first complete “Introduction to Culinary” and “Baking and Pastry” classes to enroll in “Advanced Culinary I and II”.

“Our biggest challenge is setting up the stations and get the food ready before the event,” Hitchins explained.  “Students are giving up their lunch time to participate in these school lunches as well as their part of their fourth period class to help breakdown and clean.”

Hitchins believes participation in these type of events builds student self-esteem and confidence. “Our goal this year is to teach them how to quantify what skills they have so they are able to present this information on different platforms such as a resume, job interview, and volunteer service,” she said. “Some students struggle to be at school.  My goal for this class is not only that they are learning a life skill, but they are finding a reason to want to come to school and participate.”

Moving forward, students will work more with Jasper and Sodexo in creating other lunch offerings.  They will forecast ingredients needed, do complete station set up, food prepping and all while meeting the school lunch program standards.  “Students will run the event and learn about planning, how to make sure they are prepared, delegating duties to others, and reflecting on the event so they think about their learning and assess their performance objectives to see how they have grown,” said Hitchins.