Simmons' student chefs compete nationally
At first glance, Simmons Career Acceleration Academy would seem like a typical high school with typical courses. James Bayer and Lacey Walters are the two students from Simmons culinary class to be chosen to compete against other students across the country with the use of pots, pans, and spatulas. Walters joined the course last August after being inspired by her sister, who too had taken it. She put together a collage showing pictures of what edibles they can be made into such as: roasted seeds, chips, pancakes, muffins, and ice cream to say the least. “Basically, we got a bunch of pumpkins donated from a wedding venue and we’ve grown some in our AG (agricultural class), and we’re trying to educate people on how they can be sustainable with using pumpkins because when they decompose, they release methane and that depletes the Ozone Layer. The category that she is competing in, is just that – sustainability of foods. He started taking the course in August 2019 after switching gears from tech classes. Like his classmates, he took a liking to carving watermelons into names and designs, as well as creating watermelon baskets and centerpieces. For 11 years, he was the food coordinator and executive chef at Fred’s Market and Johnson Barbeque.
His teaching method is what helps him get to know each one of his students better. “I do a lot of one-on-ones, just trying to get in their heads, talk to them from their shoes and my point of view,” Edgeman said. He strives to be more than just a traditional teacher, but also a confidant the students can come to whenever they have an issue in or out of school, he said. By observing his students prepare food, he can usually pinpoint each of their skills and encourage them to focus on those. Before being selected to compete countrywide, the two students had to work their way through the district competition which is comprised of 33 other high schools in Hillsborough County. Then the number of contestants narrowed as they went on to make it to the statewide competition, and finally they were among a smaller number of Florida students chosen to represent and compete on behalf of their state. “Each time they move up a level, it’s just a critique they’ve got to build on, from what their score was,” Edgeman said. Being able to travel by plane to another region of the country will be an eye-opening experience for the students, Edgeman said. Bayer and Walters’ class have had the opportunity to try food from different ethnic backgrounds.
Asian cuisines are the common dishes that the class has enjoyed the most, Edgeman said. Walters enjoys sushi and the process of rolling it with raw food and rice. Last week, their class prepared roasted pork that they shared with Plant City Mayor Rick Lott when he dropped by the school. While they’re still contemplating what line of work they would like to go into, Walters and Bayer said that they can see themselves taking on a career as chefs. They have already received their ServSafe certifications, which verifies that they have had the adequate training needed for food safety. They’ll also be able to obtain a manager and owner certification, so that when they graduate from school, there’s a higher likelihood that they can open their restaurants. Bayer and Walters have the opportunity to walk away with tens of thousands of dollars from the national competition. Any contributions to help assist with their trip to San Diego, can be made by check to:
Read full article at Plant City Observer