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Cooking for the Real World: Food Prep and Service Is
Midterm Assignment for CTI's Culinary Students

4/4/13


Trenton, NJ. -- While most students were preparing for midterms by studying from their notes and textbooks, students in the Career Training Institute’s (CTI) Culinary Program at Mercer County Community College’s Trenton Campus were sharpening their utensils and practicing their “service with a smile” game face.

On March 19 and 20, CTI students prepared and served meals to a panel of MCCC faculty and staff judges.  According to CTI’s Culinary Coordinator Jorge Maldonado, the students were judged on multiple criteria including time management, service, communication, presentation – and of course, the taste and flavor of the food.

The first meal was prepared under the direction of student chef Daniel Sabree, with a menu including a choice of soups and salads, and Vodka Rigatoni and grilled salmon as the entrée selections. The following day, under student chef Maurice Dennis, students served gumbo and vegetable soup, salads, and entrees including  baked ziti or curried chicken.

According to Maldonado, the hands-on learning of students in CTI’s Culinary Program is essential in their preparation for the workplace. 

”This type of midterm exam -- one that allows students to practice their skills before a group of judges -- is the best way we can assess their progress and their readiness for employment.  It’s truly learning for the real world," he said.

Observed science faculty member Linda Gaylo, who enjoyed her dual roles as diner and judge on March 20, "Maurice did a very nice job as head chef. Our table was pleasantly set and the menu was varied for each course." She was especially impressed with the chicken entree, which arrived at the table with a particularly nice presentation on the plate and good variety of tastes.

Midterms in the kitchen: CTI students, from left, Ashley Cunningham, Maurice Dennis, Shonda Hill, Marie Colon and Rachel McMullan.
Hands-on learning prepares students Rachel McMullan and Ashley Cunningham for jobs in the field in 30 weeks.
 

"I feel it was a good learning experience for this aspiring chef and the students who worked with him," Gaylo said. She added that the judges offered suggestlons for future menu ideas.

The Trenton campus’s Center City Café, which is a teaching kitchen staffed by students, serves weekday meals for students and staff, and is also open to visitors.

More about MCCC's Career Training Institute is available here.


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