First level students seek futures in the food industry

Bruce B. Davis is celebrating 25 years as a culinary arts instructor a the Center of Applied Technology North (CATN) in Severn.

Davis is a recipient of the Cutting-Edge Award presented by the American Culinary Federation. He brings his expertise as a chef to the classroom environment where his students reap the benefit of his skills and experiences in the food service industry. Davis not only shows these future chefs how, he also teaches them why, starting with a history lesson.

“Culinary Arts Level 1 students learn about the history of food service beginning with the 18th century chefs Careme and Escoffier whose contributions still play an important role in the industry today,” Davis said.

“We talk about the Kitchen Brigade including the titles and responsibilities of the different kitchen positions. Students learn how a kitchen is set up as well as the different types of food service operations. Some kitchens have executive chefs, some have working chefs, some have short order cooks and so on.”

The Level 1 Culinary curriculum takes the students through basic food service operations. Initially, they study the impact of sanitation in the industry and learn to identify common tools and equipment used in the kitchen.

“The classroom is full of newspaper articles about previous students as well as the instructor,” Davis said. “The students refer to the accomplishments and recognitions as the “wall of fame” and all hope to reach that level of recognition. Students are encouraged to join Skills USA, become class liaison in Level 1, and compete in regional and state Skills USA competition when they return in Level 2.”

Students learn basic cooking principals their first year, like moist-heat versus dry-heat cooking. The pupils also receive practical experience during their laboratory sessions.

“In the lab, students learn basic knife skills, prep for Program Advisory Luncheons, and learn front-of-house basic dining room set up,” Davis said.

Culinary Arts Level I students also play a vital role in the school’s Program Advisory luncheons for all the CATN programs. They are responsible for all the food preparation for each function and setting up the dining room.

“The students work in groups and rotate through the different responsibilities: salad, entrée, vegetable, starch and dining room set up,” Davis said.

By the end of the first semester, Level 1 students will have learned basic skills in the classroom and lab. They will know the history of food service, can identify tools, and follow proper sanitation and safety procedures. In the lab, students demonstrate their knife skills by making standard cuts that include julienne, brunoise, batonnet, small dice and tournet.

When they return for the second semester, those students will have the opportunity to pursue ACF certification as a certified fundamental cook.

One of the highlights for first-year students in their first semester, is the annual off-campus excursion to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. The class tours the campus, attend the CIA admissions presentation, and participate in a product identification/cooking demonstration given by one of their instructors.

Culinary students are encouraged to participate in county, state, and national food service competitions held during the year. The training for food service competitions is continues throughout all four high school years.

Preparing for SkillsUSA competitions in culinary arts and restaurant services starts in the Level I program with their basic training, Davis said. They will get an opportunity to compete when they return as a Level 2 student.

Restaurants and food service operators are always seeking individuals who have an understanding of food service basics and are willing to go above and beyond what is expected.

“I tell my students to ‘put their skills on the board’ which is the way they get recognized,” Davis said. “One of my current Level 1 students, after learning how to do knife skills in class, demonstrated his knife skills to his employer and was immediately promoted from kitchen helper to prep cook.”

Wreaths Across America

The local chapter of Wreaths Across America needs volunteers from the community to place American flags on the graves of veterans buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Laurel. Volunteers are needed at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 to help prepare the graves with flags, and then again Dec. 15 for the wreath ceremony.

If you can help with flags Nov. 11, email Lisa Wright at waaivyhill@gmail.com. If you would like to lay wreaths Dec. 15, sign yourself or your group up at wreathsacrossamerica.org and type in Ivy Hill or zip code 20707.

To submit news for Severn, Hanover, Jessup, Harmans, Fort George G. Meade and Maryland City, contact Sharon P. Schultz at pinkladysps@gmail.com.

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