Something is cooking at Bob Jones High School
Culinary Arts Department opens
It was a dream come true for Judy Brown when the ribbon was cut that officially opened the new wing at Bob Jones High School on Jan. 24.
A year ago, Brown watched as the ground was broken for the new wing that would eventually house a variety of new classrooms – including her new state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Academy.
Judy Brown is the head of the new Culinary Arts Academy at Bob Jones.
"At the end of my first year here at Bob Jones in 2000, a meeting was held with the business, Voag, and Family and Consumer Sciences. The high school principal and career tech from central office and career tech teachers were present. Each group needed to project what they could see happening within the next 5-10 years with career tech. We were about to break off our contract with career tech in the county and needed courses for our students to take in the future," Brown said.
Brown suggested a chef school – perhaps in 5 to 7 years at the new high school. At the end of her second year at Bob Jones, the committee told Brown to design it and they would build it.
"By the summer of 2001, Sam Rombokas, principal at Bob Jones, Lane Hill, Madison City Schools Career Tech and Computer Technology Director Kathy Rains, and Sue Helms, a member of the school board, traveled with me to look at culinary schools," Brown said. "I decided on the layout with the culinard at Birmingham's' Virginia College."
Brown set to work designing the new department in the summer and fall of 2001. By January 2002, ground was broken for the new wing at Bob Jones. Twelve months later, everything was complete and equipment was moved in.
Students in their junior and senior years are eligible to take classes.
"It is highly recommended the students take a food class before entering culinary. The new program is a high skills class needed in the fast food and restaurant workplace," Brown said. "Students who are enrolled in the program will have an advantage over their counterparts in the culinary arts programs. In addition, students learn life skills that they can take with them as they cook or prepare future meals.
Brown said students would be coming out trained in the culinary skills and hospitality and knowing the business side of the program.
"The culinary program will train students who may want to be professional chefs some day in the skills of buying, storing, cooking techniques, knife skills, plating, serving, hosting, pricing, making menus and much more," Brown said. "We are working on an articulation agreement between several culinary arts programs at the college level and our high school where students may be able to earn college credit for classes taken."
According to Brown, all core fees for classes are covered by the school system but since this is an elective class the students do have to pay. The students do pay a fee to cover labs, food, linens and uniforms.
"Students are lining up to get in to this class. During the first few days, there were several students standing outside the door to see if anyone had dropped the class," Brown said. "I've had some students try to buy my chefs' hat."
The average class size is 24 students due to safety reasons.
"Students wear chefs hats, jackets, and closed toe shoes. Any type pants may be worn," Brown said. "This is a training classroom. Students will train how to make certain foods that they themselves may eat. When they are trained and ready, we plan to occasionally feed the faculty lunch and perhaps invite certain groups in the area to eat with us."
Presently Brown is the only teacher in this department. She trained this summer with chefs from Johnson and Wales, Culinary Institute of America as well as chefs from Europe. Her training will be finished this summer in Napa Valley, Calif.
"The program I am enrolled in is for high school family and consumer science teachers. We have the background and degree in this area and focus on the skills with these classes," Brown said.
"I have always love to bake and I really like to teach. I have been catering since I was very young so now I get the best of both worlds – cooking and teaching in a dream come true state-of-the-art facility."
Classes to be added in 2003 include an advanced culinary arts and hospitality class and culinary kitchen.