Culinary arts students make quick work of a big job | NevadaAppeal.com

Culinary arts students make quick work of a big job

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

More than a dozen Carson High students in chef Penny Reynolds’ Culinary Arts Program started off the new year with a big project – cater a dinner for 500 people at the annual Nevada Grows reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

The second-year culinary arts students worked hard on it Friday and will keep working this week, putting together a menu made up entirely of Nevada-made products.

The Nevada Grows reception is a University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension event designed to promote Nevada’s agricultural products.

Much of the produce comes from Smith & Smith Farms of Dayton, Reynolds said. The bacon came from Gardnerville.

“I had no idea that Bar S bacon came from Gardnerville,” Reynolds said. “Most of these kids had no idea what can grow in Nevada.”

Reynolds’ pride in her students shows as she watches them move around the kitchen classroom, getting together in four teams, each team handling a different menu item.

“It’s great, the fact that this is the first week of school and they’re pulling this off,” she said. “They’ve never really been on their own, but they’re doing OK.”

There were some mistakes. Someone accidentally put the cookie dough in the freezer instead of the refrigerator, and when they took it out to make cookies it was harder than a slab of granite. The snafu didn’t faze Reynolds, though.

“Put it in the fridge and we’ll let it thaw over the weekend,” she said.

The students, who attend culinary arts class about every other day, spent Friday preparing the desserts for the event, while waiting for the meat and produce to arrive this week. They rolled chocolate raspberry truffles in powdered sugar or crushed walnuts, rolled out dough for honey cookies and Melting Morsels, a cheese cracker.

While cleaning the utensils after the truffles were mixed, Christy Tom tasted a little of the candy.

“That was frickin’ delicious,” she said.

It is her first effort to cater an event and she is excited about it.

“I have wanted to be a chef since I was in the first grade,” she said.

Joe Johnson has ambitions to be a pastry chef, as well, and Reynolds makes it clear this is nothing like the home economics courses of the past.

“Culinary Arts is a career path, not a place to eat,” she said. “My focus is to get them a career; not a job, but a career.”

She’s proud of the fact that her students are much in demand by local restaurants needing extra cooking help.

One of the reasons for that can be seen by her insistence on perfection. When student Jaime Good cut the dough for honey cookies, they ended up at various sizes and thicknesses, and Reynolds had the students re-roll and re-cut them.

“Perfect,” she said, when all the cookies on the sheet were the same size and thickness.

Carson High students interested in culinary arts begin the class in their sophomore year, and start catering events in their second year.

Reynolds has a good rapport with the students, who often work on their own, but don’t hesitate to ask her for help when they’re unsure.

“We get to know each other in here,” she said.

If You Go

WHAT: Nevada Grows reception

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Governor’s Mansion

REGISTRATION: 775-784-4890 by today

On the menu

• Roast Beef and bleu cheese with tomato, mozzarella and basil

• Chorizo and squash Empanadas

• Beef Empanadas

• Lamb Roll-ups

• Mini Quiches-Lorraine

• Spinach

• Bruschetta

• Eggplant fritters

• Roasted corn

• Potato cruettes

• Chorizo Puffs

• Cantaloupe sorbet

• Blueberry cheesecake

• Chocolate raspberry truffles

• Pumpkin bars

• Linzer honey torte

• Honey cookies

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.