High school program trains teens in culinary arts

High school program trains teens in culinary arts

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - The heat is on at the Ranger Cafe, a restaurant run by the students of the West Shore Career Technical District.

Kids from Lakewood, Rocky River, Bay Village and Westlake enroll to prepare themselves for a future in the restaurant industry.

"They learn all the basics from knife cuts, soups, stocks, sauces and basic cooking preparation. Then as a senior, they learn more advanced preparations," said instructor, Chef Devon Corti.

She says the front and back of the house experience is as real as possible.

"We do have day-to-day problem solving issues. If a customer cancels or walks in and doesn't have a reservation, someone burns the whole pan of quiche, things like that. They definitely have to think on their feet," she said.

"I didn't realize how fast paced it was. It gets really busy and stressful," said student Andrew Rutt.

Instructor, Chef Rob McGorray says there are jobs in the industry waiting for their grads.

"There's a high demand for entry-level jobs because of our own success. Lakewood is really exploding with how many restaurants are opening, and Cleveland, of course, the more restaurants, the more people are needed," he said.

"I want to become a pastry chef. So we bake a lot here. We have bake sales, so it helps," said student Marla Fulkerson.

To meet the growing industry demand, they're recruiting students the best way they know how.

"We do a lot of in-house promotion. I'll leave the door open when I make chocolate chip cookies or asiago bread," said McGorray.

The culinary arts program that operates out of Copley High School serves Barberton, Copley, Norton and Wadsworth school districts. They have 34 students currently enrolled and also run the Tomahawk Room restaurant two days a week. Instructor Joe Schmeltzer says his students are earning college credits, earning scholarships and getting fees waived for higher education because of their involvement in the program.

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