Students interested in a career in the culinary arts can jump-start their futures by graduating from a culinary art school that provides the foundation of cooking skills they will need throughout their professional life. Students who invest in a formal education from a culinary art college can learn how to become a chef and many hope to one day work in a top restaurant or even open their own business.
But, as a few high school students in New York prove, sometimes getting to work in a popular eatery doesn’t have to wait until graduation.
Four local students, two from Travis High School and two from Connally High School in Pflugerville, got to live out many a chef’s biggest fantasy: becoming sous chefs for a day at the famous James Beard House restaurant in New York.
Other chefs have spent thousands of dollars to cook at the Greenwich Village restaurant — which, through a kind of continuing series of meals prepared by chefs from around the world, is dedicated to promoting innovations in cuisine and encouraging the careers of aspiring chefs.
The event was held Sunday in conjunction with the opening of the Jemima Code art exhibit at the Beard House, which celebrates the culinary contributions of black women to American cuisine and was curated by Austinite Toni Tipton-Martin.
The students’ meal was served at a private reception hosted by Tipton-Martin, of the Spirit Attitude Nutrition Deeds and Effort Youth Project, an East Austin-based food, nutrition and cultural heritage program. The students and New York chef Scott Barton prepared a shrimp gumbo, stuffed mushrooms, caviar salad and a spoon bread dish topped with an oyster and crab sauce.
Tipton-Martin, who had worked with the culinary programs at both high schools, organized the trip, which was sponsored by the University of Texas’ Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Kikkoman USA and the Texas Restaurant Association.