Freshman Myo Castro, senior Mauricio Cervantes, freshman Santana Luna and freshman Giles Garner add ingredients. The home skills class has a waiting list and had to turn away students wishing to enroll. (The Enterprise/John L. Braese)
By John L. Braese
NYSSA – After a three-year hiatus, the culinary class at Nyssa High School is back in a big way.
In just its first year, 85 students picked up pots and pans in the first semester with an additional 65 students slaving over a stove this semester. Due to space concerns, an additional 50 want-to-be chefs were turned away this year.
“We only have six kitchen areas set up,” said teacher Chris Carlton. “The culinary arts class teaches life skills and prepares students for the future in the areas of both careers and life as parents. I have great kids in here and they are excited about learning how to prepare food.”
Carlton said each new semester brings challenges. Some recipes require time beyond the scheduled class. Students walking into the class with differing levels of skills.
“I spend the first couple weeks of each semester running to the microwaves telling students not to melt butter in a metal bowl in the microwaves,” said Carlton. “Other students start the class telling me how I should add a little of this or that to a recipe to make it better.”
During some classes, each group of students prepares a separate entrée, serving it to the rest of the class. For senior Kevin Sanchez, his lasagna was a huge hit.
“I prepared it with sausage and everyone in the class liked it,” said Sanchez. “The biggest thing I have learned in this class is measuring and converting measurements. When you only make half a recipe, you need the cut the ingredients in half.”
For senior Macy Echartea, the recent snow days played havoc with what she was preparing in the class.
“We were making cinnamon rolls that took three days to prepare,” she said. “We set the rolls out to rise and then the snow moved in and we had eight days off. When we came back, they had really risen. They looked like loaves.”
Echartea, who plans on entering the respiratory therapy field after graduation, plans on using the skills from the class later in life when she has her own family.
“I really think when I have my own family, things learned in this class will really be helpful,” she said. “I even learned how to do dishes here.”
Freshman Amanda Whipple is using her newly learned skills now. Living with her grandmother, Whipple is helping out with meals due to her grandmother’s late work shifts.
“I am really proud of my spaghetti,” Whipple said. “I did have some problems with the cream puffs we made. I found out how to measure ingredients and the proper way to handle meat.”
Carlton plans to continue the class due to the popularity and the feedback received.
“We are preparing these students for the future both as possible careers and parents,” he said. “It is great seeing them leave at the end of semester with the skills necessary to feed a family.”