How would you best show off your high school program for teaching students the restaurant industry?

On Friday, the student chefs, servers and restaurant managers of tomorrow feted their school system leaders and government officials with a complete brunch at a morning meeting. The students planned, cooked, and served the meal. It was a delightful taste of the program, which gets students ready for immediate jobs in the growing hospitality industry.

The restauranteurs of tomorrow cooked up and served up:

Omelettes

Scrambled eggs

Pancakes, French toast, biscuits

Bacon, Conecuh sausage

Grits, cheese grits

Coffee, OJ

Made-to-order items

Too many other brunch selections to list.

It was buffet-style, all-you-can-eat and white glove service.

Have you ever experienced the famous breakfast/brunch at Baldwin County’s Grand Hotel?  The culinary student’s brunch was just as good, minus the champagne.

If reading about the student brunch made you wish you had been there, there is good news. You can experience (and eat at) their annual Culinary Gala.

Here is their information on the coveted event: "Join us on April 5 at 6 PM at the South Baldwin Center for Technology for an unforgettable evening hosted by the talented culinary students of Baldwin County."

Event Highlights:

Culinary creations by senior students 
Limited to 100 guests – RSVP starting February 1! 
Menu: $40 per person for small bites, drinks, and dessert 

How to Get Involved:

Sponsorship Opportunities: Showcase your business and connect with future culinary talents 
Participate as a Chef: Contribute small bites and mentor non-senior students 

Giving Back:

50% of profits donated to Feeding the Gulf Coast Food Bank 
The remaining 50% funds culinary competitions and learning trips for students 
Spread the word, and don't miss this chance to savor exceptional culinary delights and support a great cause!  RSVPs open on February 1. More details will be posted here.

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The program after the brunch was about the latest report cards earned by schools. Attendees heard (and saw visuals) from principals of Baldwin Elementary, Middle and High Schools who had scored well on the newest state report cards.

There were 210 adults eating and then listening to the program.

Hospitality and tourism are as important in Baldwin County as in any locale. Tourism is a mainstay of the local economy and a huge job creator. Businesses are constantly seeking trained workers, and the hospitality and tourism program of the Baldwin County school system is helping fill that need.

The culinary program is just one of several vocational programs in the Baldwin County school system.  A complete kitchen for the program is at the venue where the Friday program and brunch were held, The South Baldwin Center for Technology. The students did not have to cater the meal; they cooked it right there on campus in their full, commercial-grade kitchen.

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The program is a pathway that provides both a classroom and a laboratory. These settings provide structured, stimulating environments designed to prepare students to be hirable at graduation.  Some of the high school students don’t wait until graduation to start work in the hospitality industry. They work part-time, weekends or summers in the very industry they are studying. What a resume builder. What a jump on a career path.

The program has a slogan: “Discover the joy of cooking and the art of creating delicious dishes with comprehensive culinary education.”

Four curricula and course tracks are offered:

Foundations of Culinary Arts

Baking and Pastry

International Flavors

Restaurant Management

Chef Veronica Monsegur is head of the program and was prominent Friday, carefully watching her students work and work they did. You could sense their joy in what they were doing and pride in providing good service – and good food. You don’t always see joy and pride in commercial restaurants.

Monsegur said, “Culinary education goes beyond learning to cook. It fosters creativity and teamwork and develops life skills that prepare students for success in the culinary industry and beyond.”

The culinary students gain real-world experience through internships, events, culinary workshops, and collaborations with successful chefs and establishments. Courses include:

Knife skills

Pasta making

Breakfast cookery (We saw and sampled that at the Friday brunch.)

Students participating in this career pathway can earn a Career Ready Benchmark, a "ServSafe Certification." They leave school with not only a high school diploma but also certification needed for immediate employment opportunities.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

The value or quality of something can best be judged from direct experience with it — or on its results. 

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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