Lunenburg Center Cooking Class Offers Lessons in More Than Just Recipes


Lunenburg Center Cooking Class Offers Lessons in More Than Just Recipes

Posted 3:37 p.m. Thursday, October 6, 2022

VICTORIA – At Central Lunenburg High School, culinary arts teacher Alicia Hilliard has a rule: canned food is a last resort.

“Our kitchen is a scratch kitchen,” Hilliard said. “In general, we don’t use anything canned. For the most part, all of our own pastas, all of our own sauces, we make everything ourselves. In this way, they learn everything.

They are the students in this case. Having previously worked with the Lunenburg County Library System, this is Hilliard’s first foray into teaching and she wants students to come away with new experiences and skills they can use in the future. She shares different recipes and foods from other parts of the world, giving students the opportunity to travel to their kitchen.

“I like to visit different parts of the world because I feel like maybe the kids in Lunenburg don’t get the chance to travel that much and we can do that with our (food),” said Hillard. “So we do a lot of international foods and I give a lot of information about that particular country or region that we’re focusing on.”

She teaches students how to make their own dough, then build ham and cheese mills. They learn to make puddings and cook treats, all so students learn to use equipment and read recipes.

“I try to let them do easy cooking things at first so they get familiar with cooking and how to use equipment and read a recipe properly and, you know, measuring cups and all that,” said Hillard said. . “Then we start exploring different cuisines.”

Central Lunenburg launches “Bean Machine”

But learning about recipes, cooking and equipment isn’t all Hillard students do. She added a new project to the class, one that teaches business and economic skills. That’s where “The Bean Machine” comes in. Hillard and his cooking students run their own cafe at school.

This is a real working café, where students prepare food and drinks, take care of service and learn how to run a restaurant. The students decided on the name and spent time developing the menu.

“We bring it straight to the staff member who ordered it and they can use a guest check, which is important if (students) want to get into catering so they can read a guest check. guest and make a change,” Hilliard said. “It really emphasizes their customer service. It’s a great idea, I think, because they get so many different aspects of catering in this tiny little cafe. .

It’s an idea that was born complaining about space.

“I was complaining to my coordinator (Career and Technical Education) that it’s so painful that our kitchen is in one building and the classroom is in another,” Hilliard said. “And I said, I wish we could bring the cooking lab to Central High. And she said, so why don’t you get out of your room? It just grew from there and the kids were so enthusiastic that we simply rode with it.

More projects in the works

Hilliard’s ideas for the classroom don’t stop at the Central Lunenburg cafe. The group is also already accepting catering projects, on a limited basis, and ordering a wood-fired pizza oven, to expand the scope of their service.

“We have a restoration job coming up – it’s a hundred people. It’s for a baby shower and it’s happening next month,” Hilliard said. “We also do a box lunch program where we sell a full lunch, dessert, appetizer…and we sell that to staff. We start when they get their feet wet in the kitchen, and that should start in a few weeks.

Over the next few months, the cooking class will also hold a pie sale and start letting students come up with different concepts.

“We’re going to do some pop-up restaurants (on campus),” Hilliard said. “We’ll do pop-up wing stands, we’ll do a pop-up donut shop. I think we’re going to start branching out and offering more baked goods in our cafe as well. The kids wanted to make cinnamon rolls from the start, so I think we could practice that next week and then offer that as a special.

Work to eat smarter

Ultimately, Hilliard hopes to teach her Central Lunenburg students skills they can use and how to make informed choices about what they eat.

“I think everyone needs to know where their food comes from and you need to understand how much work and how much resources it takes to fill your plate,” Hilliard said. “And eating well is a conscious decision, because not only does it fill your body with nutrition, but it also affects our planet. I try to encourage our children to make informed decisions, so they can eat wisely.

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Rozella J. Cook