HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – You expect to leave class with a brain full of knowledge.
Leaving with a stomach full of good food is just a bonus for these talented culinary arts students.
By the looks of the kitchen, you’d think you were in a restaurant. But the students in Hattiesburg High School Culinary Arts class aren’t job shadowing.
They’re working in their very own industrial level kitchen. When we visited, they were getting to wear their chef’s coat for the first time.
Moving around the kitchen like pros, the students shared their favorite parts about the class. “I got to recreate one of my grandmother’s stews, and she gave me her recipe,” said 10th-grade student Damaria Holden.
What was once a small scale operation now gives students real-world work experience in a brand new facility, which just opened this semester. Toni Floyd, the Culinary Arts teacher, incorporates lessons on nutrition and shopping budgets.
In the first year of the two-year program, students start with the basics like sauteing, terminology, and kitchen safety. They even finish the program being ServSafe certified. It’s a career technical education class. “Our number one goal is that our students are exposed, or they get some type of credential when they leave here,” said Career Technical Education Administrator Jermaine Brown.
Everything they cook is from scratch. Which makes family very happy, the students say. “I learned how to make cinnamon rolls. So I did that at home and my family enjoyed that,” 10 grader Rachel Johnson said.
“What I absolutely love about teaching this is watching the kids develop all their social skills. Because when we host an event and they’re preparing all the food behind the scenes…But when all of the people come in, they’re serving, they’re hosting, they’re greeting them,” Floyd said.
It’s an experience that goes way beyond recipes.
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