PHS team at Culinary Throwdown

Plymouth High School culinary arts students Derek Schweiger and Eric Grauman took second at the 2016 Fox Valley Technical College Culinary Throwdown

CTE: Culinary arts brings science, math to life

Posted February 6, 2017

The nine culinary arts courses at Plymouth High School infuse industry standards and a professional focus in all areas, while giving students the opportunity to apply knowledge learned in their core classes to real-life applications.

Students obtain the skills and knowledge necessary for higher-level employment in the food service industry, and may receive advanced placement in post-high school culinary art and hospitality programs.

Career & Technical Education focuses on the exploration of the self in relation to the world of work. Hallmarks of CTE are college and career readiness, academic and technical skills, work-based learning, and leadership skills. The biggest CTE disciplines are business education, technology education, culinary arts, and agriculture. We will explore each of these in February, which is CTE Month.

Core connections

Culinary arts draws on skills learned in all core classes, especially math and science. “Culinary arts students draw on what they’ve learned about the scientific process, making observations, understanding how to accurately take measurements and record data,” said PHS science teacher Jenny Loehr.

The new Food Science courses at PHS embody the interconnection between culinary arts and science. The classes were developed by science and culinary arts teachers, have been certified by the state to carry science credit.

“Food Science blends the two disciplines by taking the scientific process and applying it to culinary arts,” Mrs. Loehr said. “As students are faced with challenges, they learn to make observations and ask questions, which can led to new ideas. They learn to problem solve and collaborate with others, they revise the process and ultimately end up with a final product.”

Food Science is a year-long course open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who have taken a science course and an introductory culinary arts class. Students relate scientific principles to food science and safety, engaging in hands-on activities to observe the application of science used in the development, preservation, and production of our food products. The course contains food experiments and food lab activities.

Advanced Food Science allows juniors and seniors who have taken Food Science to continue their exploration of food science. Additional units include microbiology, vitamins, minerals, fermentation, preservation and packaging with an emphasis on food safety.  The year-long class provides hands-on activities for students to observe the application of science used in the development, preservation and production of food products.

Workplace readiness

All culinary arts classes provide invaluable preparation for careers inside and outside the hospitality industry. Students also can position themselves for food-service careers by pursing the following opportunities at PHS:

  • ProStart Certification: ProStart is a two-year industry-based program overseen by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation that prepares students for careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Students gain valuable restaurant and foodservice skills through their academic and workplace experiences. In addition to classroom learning, students receiving ProStart certification spend at least 400 mentored hours on the job and pass two National Restaurant Exams.
  • ServSafe Certification: Students also have the opportunity to earn ServSafe Certification, a designation created by the National Restaurant Association to recognize those trained in proper and safe food handline.
  • Youth Apprenticeship: This year-long opportunity is available to juniors and seniors enrolled in ProStart 1 or 2. Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship Program integrates school-based learning and work-based learning to provide youth with academic and occupational skills leading to both a high school diploma and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency. This program combines academic and technical instruction with mentored on-the-job learning that makes a real world connection for the students. This program is open to juniors and seniors, and students may apply in February. Students must maintain good grades in school, work for at least 450 hours in a year, achieve required work skills, and meet high school graduation requirements in order to complete the program.

Awards and accolades

The PHS Culinary Arts program has garnered a number of awards in recent years:

  • PHS took first place at the 2016 Whipping Up Wellness: Wisconsin School Chef Competition Cook-off, and has been selected as a finalist every year since its inception in 2013.
  • PHS competed in the state ProStart competition for the first time and placed 10th out of 28 teams.  The team consisted of Cole Henning, Moriah Butters, Jenna C. Musiedlak and Derek Schweiger.  This year’s team consists of Derek Schweiger, Alex Kelly, Kaitlyn Luedtke and Eric Graumann.
  • PHS teams won every event at the 2016 Lakeshore Culinary Invitational high school competition sponsored by Lakeshore Technical College.
  • The PHS team of Derek Schweiger and Eric Grauman took second place at the 2016 Fox Valley Technical College Culinary Throwdown. Teams were given two tables, two gas burners and one hour to prepare a chicken entrée along with a starch and vegetable and present them to judges.

Learn more:
Explore the Culinary Arts curriculum offered at Plymouth High School.