PEYTON, CO. — A group of local student chefs are putting their skills to the test and cooking for the community. It's part of the culinary program at D49's Patriot High School in Falcon/Peyton.
The program is teaching the student chefs industry skills, and it's more than just food for thought. The students in the program get to see their hard work go toward feeding people in the community at small and large events.
In the classroom kitchen, students use commercial equipment, very much like what you'd find in a restaurant. It's also where student chefs like Zayla Turner are cooking and learning those skills.
"In this class we're learning about a bunch of food service, how things go, safety procedures, how to clean up safely and how to keep your food stored properly," said Turner, who also mentioned the kitchen is "something like you might see on a Gordan Ramsey cooking show and I really like it."
Eric Lustig is a chef and instructor at the school, and as part of the culinary program, he's focused on giving the students cooking experience they can take with them outside of the classroom.
"It means a lot when I see students be able to create something, share it with somebody they don't know, and experience the joy of pleasing another individual," said Lustig, "What we do here is give these kids the an opportunity to gain life skills, good marketable industry skills, and we use those skills to reach out to the community."
The students cater for senior lunch-in's, D49 board of education meetings, local churches, senior citizens and community events. The events have anywhere from a dozen guests to more than 500.
"Basically we cook it here, bring it over, and they love it every time," said Isaac George, a senior student chef. "It's really cool being able to see the differences and being able to do it all at such a young age, especially delivering to schools and doing weddings, that's always super fun, and it's just a great learning experience for us."
The class is also a recipe for a future in the culinary field.
"I like that it's both academic, but it's also hands on, especially because I want to make cooking as part of my career when I grow up," said Turner.
Most recently, the students catered the Falcon Craft Fair over the weekend, and in October, they'll be catering a wedding for a teacher at the school.
The students are also getting "ServSafe" certifications for the work. One is the food handler's certificate, which many restaurants require their employees to have. The other is the manager test, which means you're experienced and educated enough to manage a restaurant.