This month we talked with Shorewood High School’s Culinary Arts program in Shoreline, Washington, to learn more about how a culinary education program for high school students puts sustainability into its curriculum.
Tell us about Shorewood High Schools Culinary Arts program. When and why did it start?
In 1990, Bev Anderson, Family and Consumer Science Education (FACSE) teacher inherited an industry-based foods class known as FEAST, Food Equipment and Service Training. Over the next two years this class transitioned
from a technically oriented program to a more expansive curriculum that featured not only food preparation skills and restaurant industry standards, but also made students aware of amazing opportunities in the food service and hospitality industries. As academic and vocational skills were blended, collegebound students with a passion for food also found their way into this class. Bob Short, the principal at Shorewood at the time, and Linda Thompson, the district Vocational Director recognized the value of expanding the program and incorporating a broader-based curriculum. There was terrific support at all levels for this program and, with that support; they were able to build an awardwinning program that gained recognition throughout the greater Seattle area.
How many students are involved in the Culinary Arts program?
Currently there are 25 students enrolled in the program. Although Culinary Arts
is more professionally focused, we offer it as an elective to the general student population, classes that focus on Food and Nutrition and Cuisines and Cultures. These classes focus on how to make quality, nutritious food at home while incorporating the diversity of the world we live in.
Who are the teachers?
Diana Dillard is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Her chef experience includes positions as Executive Sous chef for The Club Corporation of America in Miami, Chef tournant at Fuller’s in The Seattle Sheraton, and owner/executive chef of Rain City Grill in Seattle. While she owned and operated Rain City Grill, it was voted one of the city’s top five restaurants. She participated in the first-ever chef’s exchange with the former Soviet Union, during which she prepared meals for U.S. and Soviet ambassadors. Diana taught professional culinary arts courses at Seattle Culinary Academy before coming to Shorewood High School.
Wendy Jordan is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. She is new to Shorewood High School, yet brings with her a wealth of experience. She recently relocated to the Seattle area with her family from Las Vegas, where for 12 years, she and her husband, owned and operated Rosemary’s Restaurant. Wendy has also been chef/owner of her own catering company, and taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts for 7 years. She is currently teaching at Seattle Culinary Academy part-time and Shorewood High School as a paraeducator.
How do they include sustainable practices in their curriculum?
Our Culinary Arts program created a culinary garden in collaboration with the Master Gardeners program of Washington State University’s Cooperative
Extension. Our students participate in the planning, planting, nurturing and use of the garden. They are introduced in a hands-on way to the understanding of
where their food comes from and they will carry this with them as they move on to culinary schools, college and the working world. Our program operates a catering business, which is open to the public, and items from the garden are utilized whenever possible. We also foster monthly guest chef dinners, which focus on the use of the culinary garden as well as meats and seafood that are
How have the students reacted to the program’s sustainability focus?
Many of our students have grown up in a climate of sustainability without realizing it. Seattle is a very progressive city that supports P-Patch community gardens, and numerous organizations that support healthy food education. But for those who this is not the norm, our sustainability practices are eye opening. One of the goals of the program is to combine the art of creating menus with preparing foods featuring local, seasonal items and preservation techniques. Utilization is another goal that inspires their creativity. We throw nothing away, introducing the students to our composting system in the garden, and canning garden items to sell at our annual Farmer’s Market. The students react with interest and excitement as they learn this new way of thinking and participate in selling at the market.
What do you still have to conquer?
Our program’s biggest task to conquer is the state of our Culinary Arts garden. Shorewood High School recently moved into a new building and our beautiful, well-established garden, had to be uprooted and will be paved over. We are basically starting over, applying for grants and trying to raise the money to begin again. We have tremendous support in regards to the physical labor, now we just need the funding.
What is next for the program?
We are currently working on increasing our enrollment for Culinary Arts, in order to offer Culinary Arts I and II. We want to focus the class towards transferable work-place skills such as basic cooking techniques and knife skills and then move them into applying leadership, teamwork, and problem solving skills. To do this, we invite local chefs to Shorewood to feature “Chef Dinners” which give students the experience of working with the best chefs in our city and learning both “front of the house” and “back of the house” skills. This sometimes leads to internships for our students at Seattle restaurants where chefs recognize the students’ level of technical proficiency and allow them to experience professional restaurant kitchens while earning wages and learning invaluable skills. We have also received approval for a new textbook and we are interested in using their companion software, MyCulinaryLab. This is a great way to incorporate technology into our Culinary Arts classroom.
Why is Shorewood High School a member of Chefs Collaborative?
Both of the chef instructors are industry professionals and have past experience and passion for Chefs Collaborative, as well as other industry based organizations. The value these organizations provide to the individual is paramount as they translate the over load of information and politics surrounding food today, into a format that is usable and understandable. We want the students to get a taste of their benefits through membership. The Seattle chapter of Chefs Collaborative has gone above and beyond, to help involve our
students. They offer scholarships to many to attend the meet and greet/educational events, taking into account their families’ current financial limitations.
What are some of the student’s favorite ingredients that were new to work with?
Lacinato kale, McEwen & Sons grits – Alabama, tarragon, taro root, celeriac, pomegranite, and fresh pasta.
Students in our SW program gain not only competency in culinary skills, but also a sense of being a part of a very valued and esteemed program. Several graduates of Shorewood Culinary Arts, many with college degrees, have continued in the industry, becoming Executive Chefs in Seattle.