Jane Addams culinary students doing their holiday baking (Photo gallery)
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
Some students at the Jane Addams Business Careers Center are practicing hands-on learning by getting their hands in cookie dough.
The school’s culinary program is busy year round, but this is a peak season. Students are filling orders for holiday cookies, a workload that typically totals 350 to 400 pounds. (See sale flier below.)
They also are making cheesecakes and the program’s signature pumpkin rolls.
Jane Addams offers three classes back to back in the morning. Introduction to Hospitality introduces them to ingredients, measurement and equipment. That is followed by a class in customer service and Fundamentals of Production, which includes such things as chopping and making soups and salads from scratch.
“I try to accomplish a goal for every student, no matter how varied that may be,” said chef and teacher Michael Szalkowski, an Excellence in Teaching Award winner in 2018. “I try to tap into their creativity and let them know it exists. I want them to develop skills and work ethic, whether they use those in the culinary field or not.”
The students operate a restaurant, the Executive Grille, that serves lunch and is open to the public. In the spring and summer, the Executive Grille on the Go, a school bus-turned-food truck, is a popular attraction at downtown’s weekly Walnut Wednesdays and other stops.
Besides the holiday cookie sale, the culinary program puts on a pre-Thanksgiving buffet, a Thanksgiving pie sale, a Christmas hors d'oeuvres party, a spring breakfast buffet and spring fine-dining event with white tablecloths and five- to six-course meals.
Two graduates currently study at the Culinary Institute of New York. One of them, Jonathan Gardner, was profiled two years ago in the CMSD News Bureau’s annual “Success Stories” package.
Daijanay, a senior at Jane Addams, wants to go into the culinary field, maybe someday operating a restaurant and putting on a camp for students who want to learn to cook.
“I want to do everything culinary,” she said. “All of it – prepping the house, inspecting the house, serving.”
The District’s new long-term plan for academic programs and facilities will, among things, consolidate Jane Addams with East Tech, New Tech East and Washington Park. The consolidation will take place at East Tech and will unite a culinary program there with the one from Jane Addams.
Most of the consolidation will occur next school year, but the Jane Addams culinary program will not relocate until 2021-22. District CEO Eric Gordon said the extra year is needed to create space for the combined culinary programs.