Last updated: October 12. 2013 9:02PM - 2974 Views

Photo by Ryan Ottney | Daily TimesMariah Colley and Sofia Zulli decorate the cakes they made in the Culinary Arts program at Scioto County Career Technical Center in Lucasville.
Photo by Ryan Ottney | Daily TimesMariah Colley and Sofia Zulli decorate the cakes they made in the Culinary Arts program at Scioto County Career Technical Center in Lucasville.
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Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Students are creating a recipe for success in the Culinary Arts program at Scioto County Career Technical Center (SciotoTech), in Lucasville. But instructor Kim McCray explains its a lot more than home ec.

“With culinary arts we learn the basic art of cooking food. Anything from preparing baked goods and desserts to actually cooking. Someone in this program could learn how to be a chef. They could learn how to participate in any aspect of the food service industry, from serving to preparing to storing the food. They learn managerial duties. They also get two different industry credentials, which are recognized by the people out in the food service world.”

Students have to learn about special diets and nutrition, menu and restaurant design, and marketing.

“One thing I’m really proud of my students about right now is, they participated in a SkillsUSA program. The competition they were in was called Career Pathways, and they chose to do a pastry chef Career Pathways, and they actually made and designed several different cakes and took them out into the community and they also had a cake decorating class here at the school with about 18 8-10 year old girls. They taught them how to use a pastry bag, how to ice a cake, and all the little girls got to leave with their own little sheet cake,” McCray said.

Students completing the program finish with their ServSafe and ProStart certifications. ServSafe is a safety and sanitation certification that all food service managers must have, McCray said, and ProStart is a two-year program teaching about the hospitality industry which includes 400-hours of workplace experience.

McCray said students earn their hours by catering meals for groups visiting the school or making custom ordered birthday cakes, and participating in outside activities such as the Scioto Foundation’s UCAN (University-College Access Network) College Carnival Night last month.

“Some of my students came with me that night and talked about different aspects of food service. They dressed the kids up in little outfits like a chef,” McCray said. “Students explained everything, from where they’re from and what school they represented, to the different aspects of a food service career and how the children could achieve that goal. Then they let them try out one of the rolls, and the kids got to decorate their own cookie and eat it.”

Cooking is always an exciting and delicious part of the classwork. A typical day in class includes about an hour of classwork and study — measurements and techniques — then students spend the next two hours putting that to practice in the kitchen. Afterwards, they all enjoy sampling and critiquing each others dishes. This week the class tried out “copycat recipes” to recreate their favorite dishes from Panda Express, Red Lobster and TGIFriday.

“I think they really enjoy getting to do something that they love. That’s one of the beauties of the Career Technical Center. They get to pick their program of focus. Most of the kids in this program are students who want to go on to culinary school or want to open their own business, or have some type of desire or connection to the culinary arts,” McCray said.

Half of the students’ ProStart Certification workplace hours have to be earned outside of school, McCray said, and two students are getting theirs by working with the team at ‘83 Sweets bakery in Lucasville. The bakery was winners in last year on TLC’s baking competition series, “Cupcake Wars,” so when the school decided to have its own Cupcake Wars challenge for students, the staff from the bakery was invited to judge. From that experience, McCray said the bakery was so impressed by students Sofia Zulli and Mariah Colley, they invited them both to work with them at the bakery.

“I love to bake and I love the art of it. I’ve always loved decorating cakes since I was little,” Colley said.

Zulli said her family has always been in the restaurant business, and her grandfather owned the former Johnson’s Seafood Restaurant in Portsmouth. She enjoys cooking with her family, and said she enjoys the Culinary Arts program at SciotoTech.

“My family was kind of skeptical about me coming out here, but my mom was my biggest supporter,” Zulli said.

Both girls said they were very excited to work with ‘83 Sweets bakery, and called them great role models.

“It’s inspiring because you don’t get a lot of people out here that’s on TV, so it’s very awesome,” Colley said.

For more information about the Culinary Arts program at Scioto County Career Technical Center in Lucasville, contact the school at 740-259-5522, or visit them online at www.sciototech.org.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.

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