Showing off the tastiest school project in town, Killeen ISD’s culinary arts students prepared and served a full meal for their counselors and administrators.

The two-year dual-credit program allows high school juniors and seniors to complete two years of college-level culinary coursework at Central Texas College.

Students can earn 20 college hours and food-handling certification, as well as the experience of working in a kitchen alongside the college’s chefs.

If the chicken cordon bleu or eggplant Parmesan served Wednesday did not convince participants of the program’s value, then the sweet-glazed rolls and cheesecake probably did the trick.

“We do this every semester to help the counselors understand our program,” said chef Blake Webb, who teaches basic food preparation. Executive chef Ramona Lezo teaches a baking course.

“They learn under two actual chefs to work in the kitchen,” Webb said, pointing out that the 14 students available Wednesday prepared the entire meal for 25 people. There are 17 students in the culinary program.

“They’re getting college credit and it’s all paid for,” he said, noting that through the semester students learned basic food preparation, cooking, knife skills and fabricated a chicken (separated the parts).

Students spoke highly of the culinary program, which bound them tightly to kitchen-minded peers and to the chefs.

“I love that I get to bake every day,” said Tania Fernandez, an Ellison senior. “I want to be a pastry chef, and I’m learning in class about garnishes.”

“It gives us an opportunity to see what it’s like to work as a team in the kitchen on a fast-paced schedule,” said Deanna Hershberger, an Ellison senior who said she plans to pursue nursing and currently works at a restaurant.

Students from all four KISD high schools lined up in the CTC Student Center dining room after completing their meal service and introduced themselves to the educators they served.

Killeen High School senior Samuel Harmon praised the teacher chefs for passing along the importance of patience and teamwork in the kitchen.

Other students spoke of the satisfaction of completing a large job together and doing it well.

“When we’re serving, there’s a lot of energy, even a feeling of panic,” Fernandez said. “We feel the adrenaline, and it’s exciting because we accomplished all that in such a short time.

“We’ve grown and gained in skill,” she said. “I love the energy that flows through the kitchen. It captures you.”

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