High school students at the Catholic Social Services-Cardinal Bevilacqua Community Center OST Program competed in a “Restaurant Wars”-style competition in December.
After receiving culinary training from Chris Koch, a professional chef at nearby Greensgrow Farms, the students split into teams, designed restaurant concepts, and ultimately demonstrated their new skills to parents and a panel of judges.
To ready themselves for the competition — the culminating event of an eight-week long Project-Based Learning planning cycle — students on each team gained valuable career skills. Some students staffed the “front of the house,” planning the décor and working as maitre d’s and waiters, while others focused on culinary techniques and kitchen safety skills, working as line cooks and chefs.
Karen Smuck-Tylek, the PBL Coordinator at PHMC, applauded the integration of PBL and career exploration. “A PBL classroom is about more than textbooks and worksheets,” she said. “It’s about exploring the interests of students, like career skills, in an engaging, meaningful way.”
Ultimately, the competition was a great success. Holly Gonzales, a Program Specialists at PHMC and judge for the competition, was impressed by the professional quality of the food and the service. “I would have happily paid for a meal from these students,” she said.
With the kinds of career training the students at Cardinal Bevilaqua Community Center received, maybe one day she will.
Watch a video of the program’s youth and staff as they reflect on their experiences and heat up the kitchen: