Culinary Arts Program
Students at Clear Springs High School are cooking their way to a possible career. The Culinary Arts Program offers aspiring chefs the chance to graduate with a certification that would enable them to work as a prep chef.
Robert Lann Perkins is the chef in charge at Clear Springs. “I think the students coming in are looking for a challenge, and I will,” said Perkins, “I’ll challenge them. I intend to get the very best from students.”
The Culinary Arts program is part of career and technical education offered in the Clear Creek Independent School District. A student who finishes the three year course could leave with two certifications that qualify them to work in a professional kitchen.
“If we don’t have these programs in high school then the students are really behind when they leave, this really puts them a step ahead of everyone else,”
explained the director of career and technical education Nancy Mallini.
There’s no question Chef Lann expects his students to rise to the challenge. “I’m not putting out future cooks; I’m putting out future chefs.”
Tenth grader Kelly Remmers is hoping to attend the Culinary Institute of America, the premier college for chefs. “By the time I graduate I’m hoping maybe I can maybe try to get into the CIA which is probably impossible but it would be cool.”
Before students begin the hands on learning in the kitchen they spend hours in the classroom. Their textbook is industry standards including serve safe, a program that teaches students about food safety. Classroom work also focuses on classic cooking techniques.
“They all want to be top chef but to be that you have to go through all the different stages of prep and learn all those skills and work your way up and having your education having your certification makes that possible,” said Mallini.
Students are quick to understand what makes a true chef. “It’s the feeling that you get when you make something that people enjoy,” said sophomore David Nguyen, “It makes me feel good too.”
Chef Lann tells a story about how he realized his students were really grasping the Culinary Arts after he gave them an assignment to research hors’ oeuvres. “We started out with chicken nuggets and hush puppies, that’s what they were bringing me and we ended up with goat cheese in a parmesan crisps with balsamic thyme vinegar.”
From soup to super gourmet, the culinary arts program is leading the way in career and technical education.