Culinary Students at Simmons Career Center are Cooking Up a Plan for Success
The culinary students at Simmons Career Center in Plant City have the rare treat of an experienced, 11-year executive chef as their instructor who is leading seven of his thirty-one students straight to the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) State Competition next month.
Prior to starting his culinary teaching career, Apichat Edgeman was the executive chef at Fred’s and opened five of their restaurants, but nothing has been more rewarding than watching his talented students develop a passion for culinary arts. One student has mastered knife skills to participate in the Edible Centerpiece competition (carving fruits and vegetables), another student will have thirty minutes to debone and carve a whole chicken (chicken fabrication), and several students will be part of a Server Relay, which is a three person team racing the clock to set up tables for serving.
During a recent parent conference night, these culinary students held their first on-site barbecue fundraiser to raise money to support their attendance at the state competition in Orlando during Spring Break. The fundraising opportunity was a great team-building lesson and students learned to get takes done on their own in a fast-paced environment.
Chef Edgeman has every bit of confidence that these first-time culinary students, who are attending the states will go on to nationals, where there will be opportunities for college scholarships.
“These students are passionate about learning to cook and they can carry the skills with them into adult life, even if they do not go into a culinary profession after high school or college,” said Edgeman.
The culinary classes are set up more like a restaurant than lecture room. Chef elects students to be executive chefs and lead the food preparations. The goal is for students to learn to work together and truly understand and respect each role in a restaurant.
Culinary student and Simmon’s senior, Austin Martin is looking forward to going to states to participate in the chicken fabrication portion of the competition. “Every day can be stressful, with classwork to catch up on, but any time I get to come here into culinary, to cook and prep chicken, I enjoy it, it’s my relaxer,” said Austin.
Now that Austin has the experience, he has taken what he has learned home and cooks for his family and even teaches his parents a few cooking techniques.
Simmons Culinary Arts cooking team took home the silver award in the District competition. We cannot wait to see what the students serve up in the future! Best of luck to all of the Hillsborough Schools Culinary Arts students competing next month.
To learn more about Simmons Career Center, visit: http://simmons.mysdhc.org/
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