Culinary Arts has had another outstanding year at Somerville High School

Culinary Arts has had another outstanding year at Somerville High School

~Photos courtesy of Somerville Public Schools

Students and instructors David Ginivisian and the Paul Piantedosi Culinary Arts program are having another outstanding year at Somerville High School. Here’s what educators are saying about the 2023-2024 school year so far:

Approximately 300 ninth grade students are currently enrolled in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) exploratory program. The Exploratory provides students with the opportunity to visit each of the 14 CTE programs during 6-day rotations. If students choose to pursue CTE, Exploratory helps them decide the best program for them based on specific experiences and their personal goals.

When ninth graders take their turn in the culinary arts program rotation, they work on basic skills and expectations. This year, students successfully entered the world of culinary arts through baking, cooking and general food service skills, all of which are essential for job seekers after graduation. Students made an egg and cheese sandwich for themselves and a classmate, made pizza dough, prepared and baked pizza, breaded and fried chicken fingers and onion rings, and baked homemade cookies.

Tenth grade culinary arts students work on essential skills they will develop over the last two years. These include measuring techniques, baking methods, ingredient identification, equipment identification and knife skills.

Eleventh grade culinary arts students are working on their OSHA certifications while learning new skills. They recently started offering breakfast to the staff. The Culinary Arts Program has a dedicated dining hall that is open to Somerville High School staff for breakfast and lunch when possible. (The dining room is not currently open to the public.)

Continuing a long-standing tradition, culinary arts seniors prepare and serve lunch for the staff, who can take out or dine in as schedules allow. Recently, each senior researched and created a recipe for a special soup to serve to the staff.

A student presents an heirloom recipe to other students in the culinary arts studio

Graduating Culinary Arts majors build on the skills they have acquired in previous years as they research, plan and prepare for the hugely popular Heritage Recipe project. For the Heritage Recipe project, each student designs and produces a menu based on their family’s culinary heritage. Students then demonstrate how best to prepare the dish and discuss the dish’s meaning or role in their culture. And best of all, these authentic ethnic menus are shared and tasted by their culinary colleagues and sold to staff in our dining room. (Above: A student from last year’s graduating class presented his well-received pasta dishes in the Haitian tradition.)

Culinary Arts continues to collaborate with community partner Groundwork Somerville (GWS). Culinary Arts seniors worked with GWS to give the school garden a rest in the fall by planting garlic and winterizing the soil in the garden beds. (Below: students working this fall.)

Three students work in the garden at Ground Work Somerville on a cloudy day. They prepare vegetable beds for the winter.

Once a month, culinary arts students prepare and serve meals for clients of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. This project offers students opportunities to work on various cooking and baking skills as well as learn about the business side of catering.

Through a grant from one of our community partners, the program received two Flex Farm hydroponic growing units. These units should give students the ability to grow fresh herbs for use in recipes.

The staff has selected four culinary arts students to test to qualify for the SkillsUSA regional competition this spring.

The Culinary Arts program continues to renew and engage its students while preparing them for careers in several fields. Please visit the Career and Technical Education (CTE) website to learn more about the Culinary Arts program as well as the other CTE programs offered at Somerville High School.

— Chef Ginivisian, Chef Piantedosi and R. Ronen

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