New generation of students finding joy in the kitchen

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“I like the idea of someone putting all these ingredients in front of me and saying, `Here, make something good with this,”‘ said senior Veronica Nolen, 18. “People have different talents and skills, but I knew I didn’t want to be like my sister, who can’t even make rice. And she’s 26 years old!” Pearl Carmona, a senior, said interest in cooking also has increased because of a recent focus on nutrition and low-carbohydrate diets that is causing more people to shun fast food. “People want more family time too, and that comes during meals,” said Carmona, 17. “Yeah, cooking might be a trend or cool right now, but people want to avoid eating fast food.” Each year, the program enrolls a new class of about 30 sophomores. They learn not only the basics of cooking but the science behind it – chemical reactions, how ingredients interact to produce a certain taste, said Susan Sones, the academy’s director. WHITTIER – From celebrity chefs to TV reality restaurant shows to the nationwide emphasis on healthier eating, a new generation of students is discovering the joy of cooking. Nowhere is that more evident locally than at the Hospitality House at California High School, a culinary arts academy where a select group of students earn their high school diplomas while building a solid footing in the restaurant industry. “I guess it’s like a fad at the moment to learn how to cook. But a person really has to want to do this to be successful,” said senior Armando Perez. Some of the students caught the cooking bug early, watching their mothers or other relatives creating recipes in their family kitchens. Seniors in the academy start their classes at 7 a.m. They focus on pastry work and also do internships at the cafeterias at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital and the Whittier Radisson Hotel. At the same time, the students take a regular load of core academic subjects. They must keep up their grades in those classes to stay enrolled in the academy. “Over three years, they get really close to each other and to me,” Sones said. “When my child left home for college, my husband wanted to know why I wasn’t suffering the `empty-nest’ syndrome as much as he was. I told him it was because I have 90 students at school who need me,” Sones added. Hospitality House has remained a popular career academy at Cal High, with enrollment staying steady or increasing year after year, Sones said. The program normally has 75 to 90 students per year. By the time the academy’s seniors graduate, they will have received certificates in sanitation and safety procedures. At least 10 of this year’s college-bound seniors will enroll in a culinary school of their choice through scholarships from Cal Poly Pomona, Johnson and Wales University and the California Culinary Academy Institute of the Arts. “This academy is really popular, but it’s not just about having fun,” said Corey Duarte, who teaches the hospitality portion of the academy. “There is an art to learning how to be a chef,” Duarte said. “By giving students hands-on experience in the industry, they find out if they like it. But more importantly, they’ll know if they’re not interested.” tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img