FHS students cook up creations | News, Sports, Work

ABOVE: Fairmont High School senior Jayden Smith frosts a cake in a culinary class at Fairmont High School.

FAIRMONT- The Fairmont High School culinary program is in the midst of another busy semester. In recent years, the program has been completely redesigned to help students develop culinary skills that can be used both personally and professionally.

Jeanne Garbers was hired as the school’s culinary arts teacher in 2018 and helped bring more professional skills to the program.

“When I came to this school five years ago, we didn’t have a very focused culinary program; it was just a sampling of each cooking style and now I feel like we really made this a program (for the students) to enjoy. They can take these skills and use them in a profession or future career.” Garbers said.

Since 2018, Fairmont culinary courses have implemented ProStart, a nationally recognized two-year development program used in the restaurant industry that helps students develop professional culinary and restaurant management skills.

Garbers currently teaches three levels of culinary classes. Culinary I is the program’s introductory course in which students learn introductory skills such as measuring, using equipment, reading a recipe, knife skills and nutrition. While students in this class spend approximately half of their time in the kitchen, the remainder is spent in a traditional classroom, more than in any other culinary course.

In Culinary II, students focus on techniques related to baking and pastry making, such as various forms of mixing, converting formulas, and cake decorating. Beginning in Culinary II, students also begin to assemble a portfolio of foods they have prepared that can be used in job applications or educational scholarships. In Culinary III, students focus on skills and techniques more commonly found in commercial kitchens, such as how to make pasta from scratch, work with a wider variety of proteins, and how to arrange and garnish food.

Although not currently taught this semester, Fairmont also offers a fourth culinary course in which students focus on more commercial techniques such as food service management and applied culinary mathematics. This course also gives students a chance to work in a commercial kitchen and take the National ServSafe exam, a nationally recognized certification in food handling.

In each course, students start with a simple recipe but move on to prepare increasingly complex foods, each teaching skills that can be used in subsequent meals. For example, in Culinary III, students make sauces and pasta from scratch before combining these skills when making gourmet ramen.

“I love this job because I get to see a student grow from the first day they walk in as a Culinary I student to the moment they leave. … Seeing a student who maybe doesn’t like to sit and learn using their hands to learn and create is a very cool experience,” Garbers said.

Outside of the classroom, students in upper level classes have the opportunity to attend several culinary expos throughout the semester.

On March 23, Culinary III students attended a culinary expo at South Central College in Mankato. During the trip, about 24 students toured the campus and participated in individual sessions where they could work on specific culinary skills and techniques. They also had the opportunity to see presentations by experienced chefs detailing knife skills, knife cutting and pastry decorating.

On April 19, about 20 students will travel to Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall and participate in a cooking competition where they will compete in various culinary areas, such as knife skills and menu design, which will be judged by a panel of judges. by experienced chefs from local restaurants. The event will also feature more interactive learning sessions where students can learn culinary techniques not found in area schools, such as how to prepare Hmong food, spring rolls and farm-fresh food.

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