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Students Cooking up a Storm in New Industrial Kitchen

SHEFFIELD - Now in its third year as an of- fered course at Sheffield High School, the Culinary Arts class is preparing Bulldogs for careers and life.

It is also the first year that culinary students have access to a brand new industrial kitchen.

Sheffield High Hospitality & Tourism and Culinary Arts instructor Karen King said students have the chance to cook and prepare meals using equipment that is all practically new.

King said that the Sheffield School System was able to use grant money to purchase equipment from another school system and convert an old lunchroom space.

A Sheffield alumnus who owned a restaurant which was closing offered to help provide equipment as well.

“We’ve had some local business owners tell us that our kitchen is nicer than some restaurants,” King said.

The culinary instructor said that the ultimate goal of investing into the school’s culinary program is to promote college and career readiness and lay a pathway for students’ futures.

King said that she would love to see the program open opportunities for students to receive internships at restaurants. Some local restaurants have even suggested a partnership to pipeline students into their businesses.

The instructor said that a culinary profes- sor from the University of North Alabama in Florence has even come and volunteered some of his time to help teach her students.

“This is a great opportunity,” King said.

The course allows students to get their hands dirty, learning cooking essentials, such as knife skills and vari- ous kinds of cuts, and even getting trained on proper waitressing etiquette.

Students are also able to get a glimpse at the business side of the culinary world and learn about food costs and pricing.

Students can even earn ServSafe credentials. The certification requires a wide range of knowledge on safe food handling and is good for five years. The cost of the test is covered by the school.

King said that passing this test can lead to students earning higher wages, management positions and even help set them apart if they need to look for a job while they attend college.

“Restaurants are required to have someone who is ServSafe certified on-site at all times,” King explained.

This year, King said that her students have been able to prepare homemade salsa, compete in a cake war and make homemade gingerbread houses.

Bulldog culinary students have also had the opportunity to cater and serve various school and school system gatherings, including an event for the local National Honor Society, a veterans program and a reception hosted by Sheffield Superintendent of Education Dr. Keith Davis.

King said that one of her goals for the pro- gram in the future is to one day operate an in-school coffee shop run by students. She also would like to begin a program where faculty members can carry home meals prepared during her culinary classes.

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Sheffield High School culinary arts students catered a faculty Christmas luncheon at L.E. Willson Elementary School. Shown are (from left) Tyreshia Horison, Keely Carroll, Hunter Watkins, culinary instructor Karen King, Brayden Weiss, Tamiya Davis and Nakedra Ricks.