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Culinary program enriches students, community

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Utopia High School currently offers four Career and Technical Education programs (CTE) for students: Applied Agricultural Engineering, Animal Science, Information Technology and Culinary Arts.

Created in the fall of 2018, the program includes Introduction to Culinary, Culinary and Advanced Culinary classes.

The program allows students to get hands-on experience working in the kitchen following food preparation safety guidelines as well as other aspects of the food service industry.

The students can also receive two industry certifications: the Servsafe Food Handlers certification and the AMSA Food Safety and Science certification.

Culinary students find a recipe on Monday, depending on what the food topic is, and prepare the recipe on Friday. The food that has been cooked is served to staff members who bought into the elite membership. All the ingredients that are used to cook the recipes are funded by the money that culinary gets from staff members who buy into the elite membership.

The Culinary Arts classes also make jams, jellies, and candies to sell at the Fall Arts and Crafts Fair to earn funds for a spring field trip.

Additionally, students prepare frosted cookies for local military veterans on Veterans’ Day, sell chocolate- dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day and make baked goods for their mothers for Mothers Day.

Culinary Arts also caters for approximately 120 guests for the One-Act Play dinner theater in the spring and donates a meal for four as an auction item for the volunteer Fire and EMS of to give back to the community.

Ashleigh Kay, the Culinary Arts instructor stated, “I enjoy the journey with the students. Some are barely able to make ramen noodles at the beginning of the year and are able to make lasagna pasta, tamales, and sushi from scratch at the end of the year. All students, regardless of their ability level at the beginning, can challenge themselves to cook more complex food and are more prepared for life post-graduation.”