When it comes to culinary arts at Duncanville High School it’s reading, writing and ready to order.
“This has always been my dream,” said Faye Blackmon who teaches culinary arts at Duncanville High School.
Duncanville’s two tier program starts in this classroom and continues in a real commercial kitchen in the back.
When we visited the students were learning how to fabricate a chicken. It’s a fancy and resourceful term for cutting out the good parts and making stock from the rest.
Duncanville’s program is decades old.
“It started as one of those federal programs back in the '70s, and it was developed to help students who were potential dropouts develop a skill. So, if they dropped out they had some way of making a living,” said Blackmon.
Over the years, it’s become so much more. Many students go on to study cooking in college, go to a specialized school or choose to go straight into the industry.
“It just gives me the experience on what the career is really like. It prepares me for what’s coming up,” said student Thomas Baca who wants to own his own five-star restaurant and become a master chef.
Outside the classroom the students also compete against other high schools like this year’s Iron Chef competition.
“It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful to have the students go and it’s wonderful to have them do well,” said Blackmon.
Duncanville didn’t win but had an impressive showing problem solving. During the competition one of the students forgot to grab eggs to make bread pudding. Instead she used cream, sugar and a baking powder to thicken her custard. Her ingenuity impressed many.
“One of the chefs in there said 'I don’t know who here is from New Orleans, but that is the best bread pudding ever had,'” said Blackmon.
The students also use their skills to run the high school’s Main Street Café and gives them an edge to carve their way into the culinary industry.