Students in the Culinary Arts Program at the Wenatchee Valley Technical Skill Center held their first Guest Chef Dinner for 38 patrons Friday, January 29.
Culinary Arts prepares students for careers in food and hospitality industry by learning skills from cooking, serving and catering to management, operations, and hosting.
The theme was A Taste of Italy, prepared under the guidance of Ray Allen, general manager and chef from Olive Garden in East Wenatchee. “I didn’t do anything,” he said, “but give orders. The students prepared the food.”
The dinner began with house baked ciabatta bread and a mozzarella caprese salad, followed by three options for the entre: baked pesto salmon with parmesan crust served with crisp potato cairns and grilled asparagus; seared garlic chicken with a lemon sage linguine and cherry tomatoes; or house made garlic balsamic mushroom ravioli served with Italian vegetable marinara.
The students created an original tiramisu dessert with a milk chocolate bowl holding a wafer in a cream sauce and another wafer dipped in chocolate. How they created the milk chocolate bowl is cooking secret students must be asked to reveal.
Money raised at $20 per ticket will pay for a field trip to Seattle, said Betty Palmer, culinary instructor. “We’re going to the UW Farm & Youth Garden Works at the Center for Urban Horticulture to remind students that the food they dream of cooking comes from the ground, and involves farmers.”
“Then we go to the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central Community College, a splendid program. My hope is for students to see what’s possible for them. Even if it’s not Culinary Arts, there are numerous post-secondary opportunities, scholarships, and it’s doable.
Next is a tour and lunch at FareStart, a remarkable program for job training for homeless members of the community. The staff will let us tour the kitchen and speak with their trainees.”
Cloe VanGog, a junior from Eastmont, was one of 17 students that night for the final preparations to serve guests who included her parents, JoDee and Theo VanGog from East Wenatchee, and her grandmother, Beverly Bell Hinkofer.
Chloe heard about the program through Eastmont and learned she would earn college and high school credits. “What drew me to the program was that it was hands on learning. I wanted to do more than just sit in a classroom.”
She said, “Ever since I was little I have loved helping my dad in the kitchen. One thing I really like about the skill center is that it offers a wonderful experience with a variety of high schools and it’s all hands on. We get to taste, eat, and serve all of the things we cook. There is not just one thing I like about it, it’s everything!”
Peter Jelsing, director of the program welcomed the guests and said he hopes this is the first of many more programs. “We have interest from several other chefs who said they’re willing to volunteer.”
Palmer said they’ve scheduled visits from chefs at Ravenous Catering and Higgin’s in Portland.
The skills center has a modern commercial kitchen attached to a classroom where students receive instruction before preparing food.
Thirty-nine students attend the school in two cohort groups and they prepared the food in the days preceding the dinner.
Students complete their required scholastic classes for the other half of their day in their district schools throughout the NCW region.