The A.C. Jones High School Culinary Arts program continues to ride high as the new school semester begins. The students put their newly renovated culinary arts center to good use, providing the hors d’oeuvres for the inaugural 50 Women of Distinction event held Aug. 25.

According to Jay Viertel, the director of career and technology education, this event provided an opportunity for students to plan a menu and order the materials necessary to fulfill the project.

“They get the full opportunity to work through those things with their instructor,” said Viertel. “This is really early in the year. They aren’t necessarily doing these things on their own yet. ... A lot of this is them working with their instructors and going through the prepping process.”

The students began purchasing the items the week before the event. Preparation began a full day before the event.

According to Richie Jones, one of the instructors for the culinary arts program, approximately 40 students worked for four hours for four days preparing for this event.

Viertel and the two culinary arts instructors, Steven Wheeler and Jones, view this event as an amazing learning experience for the students in the A.C. Jones Culinary Arts program.

“The event was a huge success,” said Jones. “I think the students worked hard all week long and put on good food. All I heard was rave compliments from everybody that was in attendance. I don’t think it could have gone any better.”

The curriculum is a university program designed for high schools. The goal of the program is to provide students career experience they need for life after high school.

“We want to have a real world experience,” said Wheeler. “We will operate just like a business. ... we will have a cost analysis on each menu item. ... We aren’t just talking about cooking, we are talking about operational knowledge. ... You can be the best cook in the world but if you don’t know how to run a business, you’re not going to last very long.”

Maggie Seger, one of the students in A.C. Jones’ Culinary Arts program, said that this opportunity provided her with valuable experience. In addition, she managed to network and speak with many people at the event. In addition, this event taught Seger patience when working with the food.

Viertel already has multiple events planned for the students in the near future. While the events are not currently on the calendar, he is negotiating to get the dates pegged down.

“Basically what you’re seeing with this event is just the beginning of some of the stuff we are going to be doing,” said Viertel. “I’m very excited about what’s going on in the culinary program and the growth that we’ve experienced. I think it’s really reflective of the growth we’ve had in our entire CTE program.”

•mtamez@mysoutex.com•

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