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April 2nd, 2008
USDA grant gives high school students opportunity to learn culinary arts

By Amanda Oskey

St. Phillips College in San Antonio sent Chef Patrick Costello to San Marcos High School to teach the Culinary Arts class for a day. San Marcos is just one of the stops on his list.

The USDA provided the St. Phillips Culinary Arts program with a grant aimed at getting more hispanics in higher education- particularly culinary arts schools.

“The grant allowed us to have high schools come to St. Phillips and attend our cooking classes. Unfortunately, we only had enough grant money for about 5 schools to participate,” said Costello, “We had about 20 respond to the invitation.”

That’s when Chef Costello decided to travel to different area high schools and teach the cooking classes himself.

“We wanted to make it fair, and I didn’t want anyone getting left out,” he said.

Costello said going into high schools is a great way to get teens interested in cooking and possibly jump start their interest to pursue food science as a profession.

The St. Phillips department of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts has a program that allows students to come get their Associate’s degree, and then directly transfer to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

“This allows students to come in, learn about the culinary arts, and then transfer to a good school to get their 4-year degree,” said Costello.

Culinary Arts is just one of the new programs offered at the new San Marcos High School. Denise O’Grady is in her second year as the instructor for Food Technology, and Nutritional Science, in San Marcos, but this is her first year to teach Culinary Arts.

“We never had a culinary arts program because we didn’t have facilities,” said O’Grady.

With the completion of the new high school came the opportunity for the learning of a new art form.

“I hope to have a professional chef come in here two times a month to spend some time with my students,” said O’Grady.

Chef Costello was the first this year.

“I am here today to teach how to bake different breads,” said Costello, “Students need to learn about yeast and different bread recipes.”

The class received instruction from the chef, but all got the opportunity to put together their own batch of dough.

“Cooking is time consuming, which is why this class is 90 minutes, not 48 like a regular class period,” said O’Grady, “But today is even better because we get the entire day!”

O’Grady said she hopes her students learn to cook and bake, and most of all, appreciate the art.

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