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Anderson culinary students get a taste of the industry |

Anderson culinary students get a taste of the industry

WILLIAMSTON — Students scurried about the industrial-sized kitchen at the Anderson Districts 1 2 Career and Technology Center planing their dishes, either scrambled eggs or omelets.

Some students chopped yellow and red peppers Dec. 18, while others cracked eggs into stainless steel mixing bowls.

Blue gas flames flared to life as students turned on stove top burners to melt butter in skillets. Soon eggs were sizzling.

As they prepared their breakfast dishes, the Anderson teens talked about exams, school and who can flip an omelet.

Only Angel Hoffman was brave enough to try.

The culinary program at Career and Technology Center in Williamston offers various opportunities — from competition teams to catering jobs — for students to learn about cooking and restaurant management.

“I try to keep pushing the students to not be complacent in their cooking,” said culinary teacher Chef Chris Moree. “Even if they don’t go on to culinary school or go work in a restaurant, they need to know how to cook.”

Because of the culinary program, the Career and Technology Center has been named an Elite 50 award winner for the second year in a row by the National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan University in Kentucky. The Anderson school is the only one in South Carolina, and one of the few in the Southeast, to earn the award this year.

“It’s nice that the work the students do is recognized,” Moree said. “A lot of them are finding their passion, and to have this recognition is a good reinforcement for me that what we’re doing is taking root.”

“Chef Moree is just awesome,” said Career Center Director Hollie Harrell. “He is in tune with the industry, and gets the students ready for not only secondary education but for them to go onto a career. I couldn’t be prouder.”

The sophomores in Moree’s Introduction to Culinary Arts class remember touring the school as freshman. When they walked into the culinary classroom, Moree told them his was not a food class where they would bake muffins every day.

The students learn about theory and techniques of cooking. Everything is homemade: pasta, pizza dough, beef jerky and sausage.

“I try to keep it industry-focused,” Moree said. “Most of the students do some cooking at home.”

When the students are juniors and seniors, he works to get them ready for their first job or culinary school.

For the students, Introduction to Culinary Arts is challenging but fun. Kinsleigh White, a sophomore at Wren High in Piedmont who loves to cook, has learned how to bake cookies, make sweets, dough, spaghetti, soups, and now omelets.

“I really like this class,” White said.

Belton-Honea Path High student Solangie Garcia wants to use what she learns in culinary classes to be a pastry chef, eventually owning her own bakery. Belton-Honea Path sophomore Haley Vickers also wants to open her own bakery, and both students have already signed up for Moree’s class next semester.

“It’s my first choice for classes,” Garcia said.

The sophomores have learned the basics of the kitchen, and if they choose to continue their culinary studies at the center, they will have the opportunity to try out for its culinary competition team and to cater meals for school district trustees or Williamston city officials.

By the end of the students’ tenure in the culinary classes, they can earn their national serve safe certification.

“It could help them get a job in a restaurant,” Moree said. “It reassures the employer that they know what their doing.”

One of Moree’s students won the Teen Chopped Tournament on Food Network. Tommi Rae Fowler won the tournament in 2013, earning a $40,000 scholarship to culinary school. She was a sophomore, and Moree said she was creative. She practiced for the competition with the Career and Technology Center culinary team.

Students must try out for the competition culinary team. In competition, the team is asked to cook a three-course meal in one hour without electric cooking utensils. The team has won the last four state competitions, and last year, they won fourth place in national competition in California.

The team has been practicing over the current holiday break to get ready for it’s next competition in March in North Charleston.

Follow Frances Parrish on Twitter @frances_AIM

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