GRANITE QUARRY – When East Rowan High School closed for summer vacation in June, classroom 604 was a Cold War relic but turned into a commercial kitchen when classes began in August 2021.
Cooking instructor Katie Misenheimer credits East Director Tonya Brinegar-German for believing the program could do more.
“With a kitchen from 1959, I had already made a pop-up restaurant in December 2019,” said Misenheimer.
The new room is equipped with all storage, cooling, ovens and burners that it needs for a full service. Misenheimer decided the program needed to take advantage of its new facility by serving lunch to some of the maintenance workers who made it possible on Wednesday. The room was completely gutted, and the school’s construction students also helped.
When a school identifies a project, says Jeff Holshouser, site manager at RSS, the construction and maintenance staff come along, break down the school’s needs, and make plans to complete the project. A budget is drawn up and the district engages subcontractors if necessary.
âThe school helped us a lot,â said Holshouser. “They gutted the room for us and gave us a blank slate.”
The district renovated a culinary classroom at West Rowan High School last school year, and another culinary space could be renovated in East. Holshouser said these projects are fun because school is a big part of the process.
“It makes me smile every day when I walk in,” says Misenheimer. “I love what I do, but that only makes it better.”
Misenheimer said she knew her students can do more, and the new room will quickly bring in more people and hand over more plates from the kitchen.
Lunch on Wednesday was freshly grilled chicken salad, with a summery option for a slice of lime pie or with a pumpkin bun for the fall.
In the east, students begin taking basic food classes. When they take the cooking class, they first learn about mise en place, the process of preparing and organizing restaurant cooking, before using recipes and focusing on basic ingredients like eggs.
This year the students have made eggs benedict, crÃ¨me brulÃ©e and move into soups, sandwiches and starters. Today students will complete a plating laboratory.
Misenheimer says students are most interested in food at first, but they learn to enjoy cooking and want to do more at home.
For the service on Wednesday, students applied for various jobs. Fiama Alsaro, a sophomore student, ran the house. She said she cares about the food industry and that cooking is an everyday skill. She has already participated in classes Essen I and II and the topic has remained her interest.
âI cook at home almost every day,â says Alsaro. âI’m watching my little sister. So I cook for them every day. I cook for my parents. I cook for special occasions. It’s something new for me to learn new techniques and knife cuts, but I had a pretty good knowledge of them. “
Working in an environment that is more like a real restaurant makes them enjoy the food in a different way because more people can enjoy it. She is considering attending a cooking school, but is not sure yet.