BUCKHANNON – Lasagna, salad, hot rolls and more were on the menu as Buckhannon-Upshur High School culinary students prepared a meal for Wendling’s Food Service employees and members of the Upshur County Board of Education during a special event last week.
Charity Wendling, vice president of marketing for Wendling’s Food Service, said the local business reached out to B-UHS about hosting an event to allow students to demonstrate their culinary talents.
“Wendling’s Food Service takes great pride in being involved with our community as much as possible,” Wendling said. “We reached out to the culinary class at B-UHS because these students share a passion for the culinary world and could possibly be in the restaurant industry in the near future. It is Wendling’s goal to show them the importance of every part of the food service business.”
Students were invited to tour the Wendling’s Food Service facility in Tennerton and then were given the opportunity to display their talents. ProStart instructor Codey Cutright said the students participating in the event came from three groups — ProStart 1 and 2, and an elective called Food Prep. The menu featured a salad, hot rolls, lasagna and chocolate cupcakes with an Oreo buttercream.
Cutright said students enjoy putting their skills to work in the community.
“We used to do a lot of work with the Market Bistro when Chef Mike Alborano was still in town,” Cutright said. “We worked Fish Hawk actually just a couple of weeks ago — I had some students that helped with the ramp dinner. We helped Jerry Henderson a year or so ago; she did a Winter Wonderland event for the kids, and I had students who went down and made cookies and hot cocoa for the younger kids.”
A number of the students in attendance plan to attend culinary school, and Cutright hopes events like these will help prepare them for the future.
“I have several here today who are actually going culinary school, so it is important to get any experience like this,” he said. “A couple are working in restaurants, but some of them are working in fast food, so it’s just a different experience for them to work in a kitchen like this, as compared to a fast-food place. As for the other kids, I just think it’s good for them to get out and get some work experience if nothing else. Some of these younger kids haven’t had jobs yet, so this is something they could even put on a resume.”
The menu was created by the students, with the lasagna and cupcakes being original recipes. B-UHS student Hailey Hinchman said she came up with the lasagna recipe that features a twist when it comes to one key ingredient.
“We wanted a buffet style meal, so I listed a whole bunch of options and I figured the lasagna would be more time efficient,” Hinchman said. “The lasagna is actually my own recipe; I don’t like ricotta and I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t like ricotta, so I decided to use cream cheese, parmesan and sharp cheddar as a substitute.”
B-UHS student Brooke Streets provided her own recipe for the cupcakes.
“Originally I was thinking about raspberry chocolate, but then I realized it’s very hard to do because you have to make the puree, then you have to let it cool, then you have to incorporate it, and it’s difficult to do all that,” Streets said. “So I went with something a little simpler with Oreo cupcakes. I have found a good recipe which is really moist, no matter how you cook it, so I stick with it.”
Streets is one of the students who intends to go to culinary school.
“I’m actually going to culinary school for baking,” she said. “For a while I wanted to be a dentist, but it made no sense because I didn’t like any of it. I got into ProStart and discovered I really liked this, and it turned out this is exactly what I wanted to do.”
B-UHS principal Jonathan Pollck said it’s important to provide real world experience for students before they graduate.
“We’re always looking for opportunities when it comes to all of our students, but especially for our career technical education students,” Pollock said. “So much of that type of education is based upon real experiential learning, being put in situations where you’re not just doing a homework assignment, but you’re actually completing a real world, authentic task for people. They will let you know how it is at the end, good or bad, so it’s those kinds of opportunities we’re always looking for.”