The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Students develop passion for food into career

From a sizzling frying pan to a polished plate, everyone has enjoyed the luxury of food. For some students, their love of food developed into an interest in making it, and even a career in the culinary arts.

South’s culinary arts program allows different opportunities for students who want to become professional chefs or pastry chefs. Kelli McDonald, Family and Consumer Science instructor, oversees the program and teaches Food and Nutrition courses and the culinary arts class.

“We do a culinary competition at the very beginning of the semester in February, and the students get to choose their projects,” McDonald said. “They can do a salad demonstration, a relish tray demonstration, or they can do cookie decorating or cake decorating. They get to choose which projects they’re going to do and they’re going to focus on.”

Sophomore Alex Freidinger, an aspiring chef, has taken the Food and Nutrition classes at South since his freshman year, but his cooking career did not start there.

“[I’ve been cooking] since in 5th grade, so every week or so my mom would have me make dinner,” Freidinger said. “At home I do a lot of grilling and stuff with meat, and in school it’s a lot of baking, but I like grilling and making meals more than baking.”

Freidinger expressed that he has always wanted a career in the culinary arts, and one of the factors that influenced him came from a family business.

“I actually have an uncle who owns a restaurant in St. Louis and he gave me a tour,” Freidinger said. “So it was really cool to see how it works.”

Unlike Freidinger, who considered this career path when he was younger, sophomore Francine Yoon, who has taken the class since her freshman year, more recently discovered her passion for the culinary arts.

“Having a career in the culinary arts was definitely something I explored more this year,” Yoon said. “A friend mentioned to me, ‘Oh wow you really like what you’re doing in [Food and Nutrition] and you’re really good at it, you should go into the culinary arts,’ so ever since then I’ve been thinking about it.”

In her consideration of a career in the culinary arts, Yoon weighs the differences between cooking and baking.

“I definitely like cookies and cakes and cupcakes, but you’re so limited with that,” Yoon said. “For fun, I definitely like culinary better because I can just do however I want. If it’s for a career, I think I’d maybe pick baking pastries.”

Ever since both Freidinger and Yoon have taken an interest in this career path, they are searching for schools that specialize in the culinary arts.

“In eighth grade, we did a project where you’d look for colleges that you wanted to go to and there was Cordon Bleu,” Freidinger said. “There’s also Johnson and Wales, and they have someone come to Glenbrook South to talk about Johnson and Whales, so those two would probably be the [best choices].”

According to both Freidinger and Yoon, South has representatives from different culinary schools come and recruit potential students for their curriculums. While Johnson and Whales inspired Freidinger into considering their school, there are other schools that capture the interest of different students, like Yoon.

“We had a speaker come from the Art Institute of Chicago,” Yoon said. “I’m thinking more of Art Institute because Johnson and Wales only has four campuses that are far from here and I kind of want to stay close to home.”

As Freidinger and Yoon train themselves during high school to achieve this type of career, there are South graduates that currently go to culinary art schools to pursue this path. South graduate Elyse Uzee studies at Kendall College, majoring in Baking and Pastry Arts. According to Uzee, her finalized creations bring her a sense of accomplishment.

“A baguette only has four ingredients in it, but you go through the entire process of fixing it and making it into something really cool looking,” Uzee said. “It’s all your work; it’s your efforts and they’re like your children.”

South graduate Jacob Suter, freshman at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, enjoys the ability to personalize his own dishes as he aspires to make breakfast food.

“I like how I can create my own dish and make it how I want it,” Suter said. “It’s not just one thing; you don’t just follow the recipe. You can make it your own and name it as your own dish, and just in the culinary arts, you meet so many different people. Everyone is just so passionate about what they’re doing so they’re really exciting to work with.”

At both colleges, there is a lot of kitchen time according to both Uzee and Suter. In Uzee’s Introduction to Baking class, there are a lot of hours dedicated to working in the kitchen. Starting from 6 a.m., her chef instructor requires constant repetitions of demonstrations while she lectures the class.

“The chef instructors are always going to be yelling at you that you need to move faster or running out of time,” Uzee said. “But time around the kitchen is good. I love it.”

As they prepare themselves during their college years, Uzee and Suter map out their plans after graduation. They both plan to work for high-profile chefs in order to acquire more experience and afterwards open their own businesses. In his pursuit of becoming a personal chef, Suter is enthusiastic of the contributions he and others could make to the culinary arts.

“Food is not going to go anywhere, like no one’s going to take a pill for food,” Suter said. “Food’s going to be around and everyone’s going to be exploring it in different ways. It’s going to influence how people are going to look at it.”


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