Truman students cook up culinary careers

Chelsea Hagen and Mario Santos melt chocolate for brownies in a do it yourself double boiler. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
Chelsea Hagen and Mario Santos melt chocolate for brownies in a do it yourself double boiler.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

There's something cooking at Truman High School.

The school has undergone a major overhaul since last year. Truman added several Career and Technical Education classes, including a culinary program similar to one at Thomas Jefferson and Federal Way high schools.

Instructor Jillian Waffle-Osborn underwent an intense summer training session to teach the class of 21 students.

"I like it," said Sharmaine Sims, 16. "I needed the credit and it helped to do something fun."

The program just recently had its first paying gig, making cookies for the Elementary Summit held by the school district. The kids made about 25 dozen cookies for the event.

The money goes into an ASB account that will pay for the program, including the big expense of sending all the students to Spokane for a cooking competition — which may lead to a national spot.

"The expectation is that at some point the program will break even," said Nancy Hawkins, director of Career and Technical Education classes.

For now, the school district pays to support the program.

Hawkins is a firm supporter of the culinary programs in the district. She recently hired the Thomas Jefferson High School group to cater an event.

"The people who came thought they were eating four-star food," she said.

The class isn't like the home economics classes offered in high school. Aside from cooking, this class includes presentation, knife skills, designing a menu, pricing and creating invoices. By the end of two years in the program, students will leave with an industry certificate.

"They can show that and it would mean something," Hawkins said.

The industry certificate would give them a leg up in a restaurant or with an application for culinary school.

"It's exactly what I need," said Chelsea Hagen, 18. "It gives me extra practice for owning my parents' business."

"It's cool," said Mario Santos, 16. "We can have an advantage."

The class averages two days a week in the kitchen. The rest is spent in the classroom.

In the kitchen, the class is split into two groups. While in the kitchen, students are assigned different jobs — executive chef, cleaning, prep, baking — just like they would in a real restaurant. The students rotate each week.

The menu changes and varies each week as the students learn more. This week, they made brownies for a staff meeting. They will also make potato soup, using the leftovers from the practice they did for their knife skills.

"That way we're not wasting product," Waffle-Osborn said.

The school is also working with South Seattle Community College, which has a good culinary program, to get accreditation. Students could earn college credit with the high school credit and the industry certificate.

During this school year, the program has a couple of goals: To first get a menu together for catering clients, and to start a coffee cart.

Learn more

If you are interested in hiring the Truman culinary class, contact Jillian Waffle-Osborn at (253) 945-5812.

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