The Culinary Arts Institute and its partner, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), hosted more than 40 local high school students on Friday during a training session designed to boost interest in the industry.
L.A. Mission College Instructor Chef Jesus Sanchez, CEC, welcomed students representing local high schools, including San Fernando, Sylmar and Discovery Charter Prep, and encouraged them to use the event to get comfortable in the kitchen and ask questions.
“This is an opportunity to build excitement and give these students a hands-on experience,” Chef Sanchez said. “C-CAP is instrumental in helping us reach these students and promoting Mission College with the local schools.”
Chef Sanchez said that Mission benefits from C-CAP because the nonprofit helps provide students with scholarships, and fundraises to support high school programs.
Lisa Fontanesi, director of C-CAP Los Angeles, said Mission is a key partner in getting students ready for the real world of culinary and hospitality.
“Not only are Mission’s facilities fabulous and state-of-the-art, but the support of the instructors is key to the success of our students,” Ms. Fontanesi said. “We also love that this is how we get kids to attend Mission … By seeing the school and meeting the chefs, they realize they have something wonderful right in their own backyard.”
She described C-CAP as a not-for-profit that promotes and provides foodservice career opportunities for underserved youth.
For Chef Tina Hartounian, a culinary instructor at San Fernando High School, the partnership allows her to expose her students to the realities of a culinary career.
“I can teach them the fundamentals,” Chef Hartounian said. “But this takes them out of their comfort zone and lets them operate in a real kitchen and participate in job shadowing, which allows them to experience what it’s like in the real world.”
She brought three seniors and one junior to the event in preparation for C-CAP’s annual cooking competition. Students must prepare classic French dishes to demonstrate culinary, safety and sanitation, and presentation skills in a timed format.
“The competition is overwhelming so I try to bring them as juniors so they can get used to the kitchen and experience.”
With more than 125 students in her program, Chef Hartounian said partnering with Mission and C-CAP is an important step.
“Some of these students get these ideas from this foodie generation and food network, and they don’t realize how much work it is,” she said. “It’s teaching them soft skills that are important for any of us that are working.”
“When we partner with Mission and C-CAP, it gets our students into the industry … We’re creating a bridge.”