Students get career experience serving high profile dinner

Nicholas Ward, 16, Olivia Cline, 18, and Bobby Trigger, 16, all from Greencastle, were among the culinary arts students enrolled at Franklin County Career and Technology Center who served a military guest of honor, elected officials and community members at a special banquet during this past school year.

Greencastle-Antrim students were among the high school chefs who had the chance of a lifetime when they served lunch to a top ranking military official during this past school year. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Franklin County earlier this year. The highest-ranking U.S. military officer was in Chambersburg at the invitation of the Greater Chamber of Commerce and the Scotland Landing Foundation. He conducted a town hall meeting in the Capitol Theatre with a crowd of 750. Prior to that he joined 60 other people for a meal prepared by culinary arts students from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Instructor chefs Michael Tosten and Ronald Berger worked with 30 students in three classes to plan, prepare and serve the meals. For the students who joined Culinary 1 for the semester, they had attended less than three weeks of class before they were thrown into the fray.

“We worked through the challenges,” said Berger. “That’s what this business is. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, though, and I hope the kids appreciated it. They may not get this opportunity again.”

The horticulture students made floral arrangements for the tables, the graphics department created the menu for each place setting, and the culinary classes handled the food.

The fare was upscale with the first service consisting of seafood chowder, pepper pickled fennel and fingerling potato. The second round was poached chicken on artisan greens, shaved pecorino romano, roasted beets, and baby carrots with winter radish viniagrette. Dessert was toasted pecan creme brulee, cocoa cookie and butterscotch drizzle, completed with coffee and iced tea.

“The chicken was really good,” said Greencastle-Antrim High School student Nicholas Ward. “And the butterscotch sauce was amazing. I made that.”

He and his peers tested two recipes for the sauce, one with milk and one with egg. They determined the egg made the better product.

Olivia Cline toasted the pecans and helped caramelize the custard dessert. The feedback they received through the grapevine was good.

“They said everything went well and they enjoyed everything,” Cline said.

Berger concurred. “This thing went off without a hitch. That’s rewarding to us.”

While the students are called upon to serve at charity events from time to time, Berger stressed that education came first.

“We train and educate students to get a sense of what this industry has to offer,” he said.

Mullen met with the kitchen artists and gave each of them a Congressional coin.

Pamela Gaudiose from the foundation sent a letter of thanks to FCCTC. She said the performance of the students was “outstanding.”

She wrote, “Your team left a lasting impression of the quality and high standards that is a fundamental component of the training program at the school. Admiral Mullen is an extraordinary individual and a world leader to whom we wanted to show the very best of our community. There is no question, you are among the best. Thank you for a job well done.”