High School Students Cook to Prep for Culinary Arts College

Culinary arts classes at Plano East High School are helping students to prepare for cooking college by introducing them to the foundational knowledge they will need to be successful.

The classes, which are also open to students from Plano West and Plano Senior high schools, have gained increasing interest over the last few years according to the Culinary Arts Director there.

Lois Conwell said that they have become so popular that students are being turned away because the program has filled to capacity.

The students are learning culinary arts in a classroom environment that is complete with a full service kitchen. Much like what they will experience when they enter cooking college, the students gain experience in working with professional kitchen equipment. They learn how to work with industrial dish washers, fryers, and ovens.

The culinary arts classes are teaching the students to be aware of the details of successful cooking, a skill that will serve them well in a culinary arts institute.

Payton Reine, a high school junior said “In this class you learn to pay attention to detail,” Reine, who started cooking at the young age of 8, noted that learning to cook in a professional kitchen is much different than one might expect. “It’s more real here than cooking at home, too. Some restaurants don’t even have some of this stuff.”

Students prepare lunches for teachers on occasion, a way for the students to test their skills out on real “customers”.

A student of the culinary arts program at the school, Alysia Collado, competed in an Iron Chef competition at a cooking college at the Art Institute of Dallas. Although the team didn’t win the competition, the students in her group were generally accepted as the runners up. The cooking school students took home first place for their dessert entry, however.