PLANO -- The good ol’ days of baking a cake to make the grade in Home Economics have come a long way. Culinary Arts programs at local high schools are crafting some delicious dishes you may have already ordered yourself.
“This is a class for students who have a passion for cooking,” said Lois Conwell, the Culinary Arts instructor at Plano East Senior High School. “Most of our kids are going into culinary school after graduation.”
At PESH, Conwell said students learn cooking techniques and terminology to set them apart from the average kitchen warrior. During one recent class, she warned her class to pay close attention to the heat they were using while rendering fat out of bacon. They get together for an hour and a half each day at the “East Side Bistro,” their kitchen classroom with amenities rivaling many restaurants.
“This is the one class I look forward to going to,” said student Zach Larson.
Yet in many ways, this team is similar those on the PESH playing fields
“Leadership is a big part of what we do.”
The class enters several competitions through the course of the year and, like an athletic competition, the team must be on their game.
“We are graded on our flavors and we have to make sure it is hot, ready, and good,” said student Lauren Perez. “And our performance as well. It is like a sport.”
She compared their most recent competition to a marathon, but they claimed a victory that will end up on the taste buds of Top Golf patrons.
Area schools were challenged to create a dish to appear on Tog Golf’s kid menu as part of the "Kids Teaching Kids" program for Medical City Children's Hospital. But only ingredients already in Top Golf’s kitchen could be used and it had to meet very specific health and nutrition requirements such as calorie count and sodium levels.
“It was a very stressful process,” Larson said. “It was mainly just trial and error.”
The team worked closely with a nutritionist but their creations were sent back to them several times because they had difficulty staying under the calorie count. Conwell said the group was ready to give in but like any great team, the made a comeback.
“I asked them if they wanted to quit. And they looked at each other and said they really did not have a choice. And so I told them “get to work!”
And eventually they found the recipe to success.
Perez, Larson and teammate Helena Pham produced a kids tacos plate which Top Golf will now carry on their menu. An item that took skill, commitment, and a whole lot of teamwork.
“If one person does something wrong, it affects the whole team,” said Pham.