Culinary arts program to debut at Bay View High School

February 29, 2016

By Sheila Julson

The Bay View High School home economics kitchen classroom, dormant for years, will receive new life when the new ProStart Culinary Arts Program launches in fall of the 2016-2017 academic year. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

The Bay View High School home economics kitchen classroom, dormant for years, will receive new life when the new ProStart Culinary Arts Program launches in fall of the 2016-2017 academic year. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Bay View High School will participate in the ProStart culinary arts training program pilot scheduled to launch at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

Developed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program to teach students the fundamentals of culinary arts and hospitality, including cooking, management, and communications in preparation for careers in the culinary and hospitality industry. Bay View is one of four MPS high schools that will be included in the pilot. The others are Washington, James Madison,  and Vincent.

Currently in 104 high schools throughout Wisconsin, ProStart has been in existence for 19 years, said Alexandra Newman, ProStart coordinator for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation. “Students who have participated have gone on to successful careers and to opening their own restaurants,” she said.

Bartolotta Restaurants was instrumental in partnering with MPS to help them begin instituting ProStart, said Eric Radomski, senior manager of career and technical education at MPS. “The Bartolottas had this idea for bringing in the ProStart program and preparing students for careers not just in culinary arts, but also for hospitality in general.” Talks began with MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver and MPS officials, and others from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and Bartolotta Restaurants to create a pilot program.

Joe Bartolotta and his wife Jennifer Bartolotta are passionate supporters of urban education. “We believe it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Jennifer said. “The idea we had for helping education was to utilize all of our resources, including our network of hospitality industry professionals to bring everybody together in a collaborative effort to work with MPS on workforce development.”

Joe, who is on the WRA board, was aware of the ProStart program and knew that a curriculum was already in place. “Years ago, the home ec (economics) departments in schools were abandoned due to budget cuts,” he said, “It’s unfortunate—but a reality—and our fear is that we’re unloading these kids after they graduate onto the street without any direction or skill level toward careers.”

He said that ProStart can help prepare students for careers of all levels in hotels, airports, and hospitality. Bartolotta plans to have a chef-mentor who will work with school staff to implement the program. He also hopes to set up internship and summer job opportunities for ProStart students in his restaurants.

Sandra Peterson, Bay View High School Assistant Principal in Charge and Steve Vande Zande, school support teacher, are proud that their school was selected to participate in the ProStart culinary arts training program. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Sandra Peterson, Bay View High School Assistant Principal in Charge and Steve Vande Zande, school support teacher, are proud that their school was selected to participate in the ProStart culinary arts training program.
PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

The cost of implementing the ProStart program is still unknown, said Sandra Peterson, Assistant Principal in Charge at BVHS. As of mid-February, MPS staff and partners were in the process of evaluating the former home economics rooms in the four participating schools, testing appliances to make certain they are in working order. They surveyed existing kitchen inventory, checking to see what pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils may be needed.

Peterson said BVHS has working appliances and lots of kitchen equipment in its seven kitchen work-areas from the past when the home economics room served as an active classroom.

ProStart will be open to juniors and seniors who will be able to earn credit toward Milwaukee Area Technical College’s culinary arts program, Peterson said. There will be 20 to 25 participating students in each grade.

Students who complete the program will receive a certificate of achievement, which can help them get started working in the industry.

MPS has not yet decided which of its staff will be involved with the program.

Equiment on table BVHS home ec room

Colanders, bowls, and pots and pans that have lain dormant in Bay View High School’s home ec room but will see new life come fall. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Students Want to Cook

When Peterson arrived at BVHS this past November, she met with students to discuss what they wanted to see implemented in the school. “Most of them mentioned they wished we still had cooking classes, which was interesting,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll have any trouble filling the ProStart classes. We’re excited to have this opportunity for our kids.”

Honeypie restaurant, 2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., along with Arts @ Large, a nonprofit that supports learning projects in MPS schools, participated in previous cooking projects at BVHS that were tied in with history lessons. Peterson said Arts @ Large volunteers would paint and spruce up the home economics room during spring break.

Honeypie sous chef Chris Bory began working with BVHS students in November 2015 when they studied the Revolutionary War era. He introduced them to foods from that time period, such as pickled cabbage, and taught them how to compose a dish for the Iron Chef challenge held at the school this past January. He compiled ingredient lists for food that was prepared in the 17th century. Competitors drew from these to create their dishes.

The students showcased their creations for the Iron Chef judges. Curry goat, the winning dish, will be featured on Honeypie’s menu. The restaurant was going to introduce the curry soon after the competition, but its menu is constructed of seasonally available ingredients. Goat meat was scarce this winter, so the dish will be placed on the menu later this year when the supply increases, Bory said.

“The students were really enthusiastic,” Bory said. “We brought food into the classroom for them to try, and it was easy for them to stay engaged because it was something unusual. They had been incredibly receptive, especially the day of the Iron Chef competition. That’s a really tough thing to pull off, but it went off without a hitch. It was great.”

MPS officials said that they would announce which restaurant will partner with Bay View High School by the time the program begins in fall of this year.

Traditional Skills, New Opportunities

“The Bartolottas look toward the future, and we want to be sure students are prepared for all types of careers,” Radomski said. “If any students are interested in careers in culinary arts, restaurant management, or hospitality, we want to have programs to help them.”

He added that family and consumer science education has replaced traditional home economics classes in order to comply with the Carl D. Perkins Federal Grant requirements. “The grant is specific in supporting programs for specific career pathways, so the odd sewing class or odd cooking class that wasn’t directly connected to careers sort of had to go away,” he said. “We can bring cooking back, but it has to be part of a program that is directly related to post-secondary education and training for careers.”

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.

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Comments

One Comment on "Culinary arts program to debut at Bay View High School"

  1. Susan Goudreau on Mon, 21st Nov 2016 10:28 am 

    Hello – I am working at Cudahy High School and we are redoing all the kitchens with a passed referendum just recently. I was hoping to bring a few people over for a site visit at Bay View – talk about Lessons Learned for putting in the Culinary Arts Program at Bay View HS. Possibly both the Principal and Superintendent of Cudahy School District. Would your staff have time available at 3:00 for a meeting? Thank you Susan Goudreau – FACS Teacher, Cudahy High School (414) 429-1136 cell phone

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