APPLE VALLEY, Calif. (news release) – The Granite Hills High School culinary and bakery programs are whipping up something special. Students in the school’s six culinary classes and six bakery classes are not only being equipped with cooking, baking, food safety, hospitality and management skills, but are also fulfilling catering requests, practicing teamwork, and applying mathematical concepts to practical “real-world” scenarios.
All six of the Granite Hills baking courses are taught by Emily Cornwell. Chef Cornwell said that she has seen many of her students gain confidence, find their niche, and broaden their understanding of homemade food through experience in the program. She explained that many students had never baked without a premade mix, but are now creating delicious treats from scratch.
Cornwell also said that baking is beneficial regardless of a student’s future career path because it helps solidify mathematical concepts. “We talk about fractions and we talk about converting fractions,” said Cornwell. “If a student doesn’t have a ¾ measuring cup they can use a ¼ cup three times. It’s putting math into real life situations they enjoy.”
Tristin Waggener, a senior in the advanced baking course, said that she has been able to transfer the skills she has learned in class into her own kitchen at home. “I can make stuff that I make here at home so we don’t have to go out and buy it,” she said. “I think it tastes better that way. I make cookies, calzones, and pretzels at home and my family loves it.”
The GHHS Cougar Kitchen and Cougar Bakery often provide meals for professional development sessions, and have even prepared a wedding cake. “It was actually really fun,” said Nick Griffith, senior in an advanced baking class. “They ordered from us and we made the actual foundation and the individual cakes.”
Teamwork plays an important role as students work in small groups to complete recipes, fulfill orders, or participate in special projects. Students in Chef Cornwell’s bakery courses recently completed a Halloween-themed project and are currently preparing to create a Thanksgiving showpiece.
“(Bakery) teaches us how to start up from nothing, make something, and work with other people,” said Griffith. “It teaches you have to work as a team because everyone needs to do their part to make something. We can’t make the dish if we don’t have the flour from somebody or the sugar from someone else.”
“In the end, it all works out because everyone wants to eat,” said Waggener.
Griffith and Waggener both competed in last year’s regional Sweet Genius competition and are preparing to compete for the second time. “The most challenging part is coming up what we want to do to make it cohesive,” said Griffith, referring to the upcoming Sweet Genius competition. “It all revolves around themes. You need to match your theme and everything needs to taste good.”
Culinary students recently competed alongside Apple Valley High School at High Desert Chopped, a regional culinary competition inspired by a popular cooking show of the same name. Bakery students will compete at Sweet Genius on Dec. 13 at Silverado High School.