Bon appétit at ECHS
90 students taking culinary arts classes at school
Students in chef’s hats and coats scrambled to get the right ingredients and equipment to make buttermilk pancakes on a recent school day at Escambia County High School.
From measuring the right amount of flour to making sure the griddle is hot, the chef-students got to work to make the popular breakfast food.
ECHS Culinary Arts Teacher L.D. Goldsmith said the program is in its second semester and students in grades 9-12 participate. At present, there are 90 ECHS students in the program.
“The program started off slow, but it’s picking up speed,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said the class didn’t have textbooks and not much equipment during the first semester. The books arrived just before Christmas break.
Last week some $15,000 worth of equipment arrived at the school, which included pots, pans and other needed utensils.
The culinary arts program at ECHS came about through the 21st Century Workforce Act. Escambia County’s career tech center wrote an application for two grants, including the program at ECHS, Todd Williamson, the county’s career tech principal, said.
“We actually put in an application for two grants; one for the culinary arts program at Escambia County High School and the other for industrial maintenance at the career tech campus,” he said. “We were fortunate to get both grants.”
Williamson said a $158,056.22 grant gave the high school the go-ahead to renovate a space to accommodate the program and to fund a teaching unit.
“Without the school board, we couldn’t have done anything,” he said.
Goldsmith, who is the owner of Gold’s BBQ in Atmore, is getting help from Chef Keysha Gonzalez, who is serving as a lab technician.
Gonzalez is from Atmore and was a personal chef and cooked all over the world. Her clients included the McTaggarts, one of the richest families in Canada; and Carla Hall, who she cooked for on a private island in the Bahamas.
Gonzalez said she love to be able to give back.
“I would do this for free,” she said.
Gonzalez said Italian food is her favorite type of food to cook.
“I love the student’s different answers to questions and being able to teach them to learn how to cook healthier.
Goldsmith said he is aiming to enter his program into cooking competitions in the future.