Grant serves students a taste of a culinary career

January 11, 2016

SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD SUZANNE grew up watching Food Network. She now has a love of cooking she hopes to carry into a full-time career someday. Thanks to a $20,000 grant from Altria Companies Employee Community Fund, Suzanne will be able to take hands-on job training classes at UMFS’ Charterhouse School where she’ll learn about operating a restaurant.

The grant will expand the culinary arts program from part-time to full time as part of Charterhouse School’s career and technical education offerings. Students learn about nutrition, cooking techniques, food safety, culinary laws, sanitation principles and food-service career opportunities. Both the Edinburg and Richmond schools have state-of-the art industrial kitchens for hands-on learning.

Wade Puryear, Charterhouse School’s VP of education says he hopes a portion of the grant can be used to kick-start a student-led catering and dining services enterprise.

“The culinary program gets requests to have students prepare and serve food for department meetings, trainings and special events. When demand exceeds capacity, UMFS staff orders from outside vendors,” Puryear said. “Why not have the students be the caterers?” Students can learn valuable business skills and proceeds from the student venture can go back into the culinary program.

The culinary program helps prepare students for a variety of careers— chef, restaurant manager, working in event sales or management jobs. And even if students don’t decide to pursue a culinary career, they learn valuable skills that can last a lifetime.