Bon appetit: Culinary students showcase skills at grand opening

Oct 26, 2021Courtney Morris
Pastry Chef

The San Jacinto College North Campus Cosmetology and Culinary Center flurries with activity on grand opening day Sept. 30.

In the culinary arts wing, students give event guests a taste of their methods and their finished products.

In quantity procedures class, students present smoked-gouda shrimp and grits in mini silver bowls. Each creamy serving is topped with a blackened shrimp and a sprinkle of green onions.

Beyond the grits table, the industrial kitchen buzzes as students chop Romaine for salads or use tongs to lift curling bacon from pans.

Down the hall in quantity bakeshop production class, students plate rich chocolate brownies on mini silver trays drizzled with caramel. Beside each brownie sits a shortcake, which guests can dollop with strawberry compote, then pipe sweetened whipped cream on top.

The scent of warm vanilla and butter wafts through the air as sponge cake layers rotate in the commercial rack oven. Pastry students crack eggs against the rims of stainless-steel bowls, while a Hobart stand mixer spins heavy whipping cream into clouds.

Students Octavio Hernandez and Krystal Rodriguez both started their training in the culinary arts program's former space. Now they join their peers in the spacious new Cosmetology and Culinary Center, which opened in 2020.

Besides a cosmetology wing, the center houses basic and intermediate/specialty culinary and bake labs and a demonstration kitchen.

"Being able to work in this environment and to be able to see the old building and where we came from, it just shows that education is the focus," said Hernandez, a pastry arts student who works at the Tout Suite downtown bakery.

Rodriguez is pursuing a chef training/restaurant management degree. The mom of three special needs children hopes to teach cooking fundamentals to special needs adults someday. San Jac's caring culinary faculty and an open learning environment have set the standard for her.

"I love how San Jac has such a great program in culinary arts," she said. "They adapt to adults with special needs. I love that they work with everybody. We all work together."

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