By Joshua Schuetz
April 3, 2023, marked the launch of an exciting culinary adventure for the Advanced Culinary Arts students at St. Peter High School, thanks to work by the St. Peter School District and CEDA’s Workforce Coordination team. This year, 35 students embarked on a final semester project, working in small groups to create and deliver their own unique restaurant concepts, with the support of local culinary experts.
To kickstart their planning and exploration, the students received guidance from a professional mentor panel. This expert panel, consisting of culinary and business professionals, provided insights on food services, sciences, safety, finance, and management. The first panel set the foundation and the second panel, which took place on May 23, acted as the project’s capstone, evaluating outcomes from an investor’s perspective.
In order to execute their restaurant concepts, the students assumed key roles to run the establishment smoothly. They conducted interviews, “hired” team members, and assigned them to specific positions. In May, the student groups brought their restaurants to life, serving delectable dishes and providing an unforgettable dining experience for selected guests.
Staff worked closely with CEDA team member Honey Burg to establish connections and coordinate engagement dates with local professionals. The mentor panels not only fostered students’ exploration of concepts and initial considerations but also provided real-world insights into business management, human resources, branding, and creating exceptional dining experiences. Discussions encompassed feasibility, finance, marketability, and collaboration.
Each student group developed a restaurant concept, theme and menu based on what they learned from those panels. Their presentations showcased their comprehension, dedication, attention to detail, and collaboration skills. The restaurants included Bella Bella, Cozy Cafe, Divine, Local Hour Bistro, Morning Meeple, Nate’s Bar, and Singing Saloon.
Upon completion of the project, many students expressed a continued interest in pursuing careers in the culinary industry. They also discovered new areas of interest, such as marketing and management, which Burg highlighted as a key benefit of the project.
“With the support of the panelists, students now have more tools in their toolbox, incorporating ‘real-world’ concepts into their project design and delivery. This project excellently combines culinary arts, leadership development, and career skill building,” Burg said.
The St. Peter High School Culinary Arts project not only nurtured students’ passion for the culinary arts but also instilled crucial leadership and career skills. By merging creativity, teamwork, and real-world applications, this project has empowered the students to pursue their culinary dreams while showcasing their talents.