Call it a recipe for success!
Students in a Gravesend high school’s culinary arts program will soon take their cooking classes in a new-and-improved, state-of-the-art kitchen and classroom. The principal of Dewey High School said its teachers and Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) — who secured $2.5 million in city funds to pay for the upgrades — hope the soon-to-be spiffy new space will equip students with the skills they need to join the staff at some of the city’s finest eateries.
“Our hope, with the support of Councilman Treyger, is to help prepare our students to work in top-notch restaurants throughout the city,” said Connie Hamilton. “Our students will be able to leave Dewey with the hands-on experience and credentials to set them up for success in the culinary arts.”
The new kitchen will include commercial refrigerators and freezers, two computer stations, and an interactive Smart Board, plus a teacher’s demonstration station decked out with a deep fryer, grill, double-decker convention oven, stove, and sink, according to a rep for Treyger. And a new culinary arts classroom in the space will boast five student workstations.
More than 250 students in the school’s culinary arts program will use the space during each day’s nine periods, Hamilton said, adding that the school plans to expand the courses offered to include introductory and advanced baking, healthy cooking, and commercial food-preparation classes.
School officials designed the new space in conjunction with the city’s School Construction Authority, which will start construction on the project this month and finish by next spring, Treyger said.
The city’s food-service industry is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the overall city economy by 2022, and more than 8 percent of its roles are supervisory and managerial positions, according to a 2015 report compiled by the state Department of Labor.
Treyger — who is a former teacher and now chairs the Council’s Education Committee — said he was inspired to fight for funding to renovate the school’s kitchen when he visited a few years ago to snack on the student chefs’ tasty creations and feeling struck by the outdated kitchen. He added that the new space will prepare students to enter the fast-growing field.
“Dewey is filled with amazing, talented students and this is its most successful program, but the kitchen and the infrastructure were severely dated,” he said. “I am a big proponent of career-based education. When you look at the types of jobs that are growing rapidly in the city, food and hospitality are right up there.”
And the new kitchen won’t just be for high school students. Hamilton said the school will start an after-school culinary club for local middle and elementary school students who want to cook up their own creations — and they’re even considering hosting occasional adult cooking classes for parents.