Hudson Culinary Arts students cooking their way to catering succ - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Hudson Culinary Arts students cooking their way to catering success

Hudson Culinary I students (left to right) Bailey Freeman, Cheyene West and Christian Morando prep food during Thursday's 3rd period. Hudson Culinary I students (left to right) Bailey Freeman, Cheyene West and Christian Morando prep food during Thursday's 3rd period.
Culinary Arts instructor Casey Gerard checks in with her Culinary I students during the "Careers on Wheels" even, where the 10 students catered lunch. Culinary Arts instructor Casey Gerard checks in with her Culinary I students during the "Careers on Wheels" even, where the 10 students catered lunch.
Hudson culinary practicum students prepare, cook and serve at events they cater around East Texas. Hudson culinary practicum students prepare, cook and serve at events they cater around East Texas.
Hudson Culinary I students prepare fruit kabobs for an upcoming catered event. Hudson Culinary I students prepare fruit kabobs for an upcoming catered event.
HUDSON, TX (KTRE) -

On an overcast Thursday morning, the kitchen in the Hudson Culinary Arts Program buzzed with activity as students enrolled in the Culinary I class for 3rd period. They were busy at three different stations preparing fruit kabobs, cookies, and slicing and prepping three-inch rolls for pulled pork sandwiches.

"All of this is in preparation for the UIL event at AC tomorrow," said Suzanne Ratcliff, a 10-year two Independent School District teacher, who has taught nutrition,wellness & Hospitality for two years at the high school.

“This is Culinary I. And they are learning the basics of cooking right now,” Ratcliff said.

Ratcliff stepped in Thursday to watch the preparation due to her colleague's absence. Culinary instructor Casey Gerard was out sick.

There are more than 160 students enrolled in the three levels of the growing Family and Consumer Science program. However, some students were turned away this year because the classes were at capacity.

P.T. Walters, Hudson's Director of careers & technology, said he's pleasantly amazed by the quick growth of the program. He said they are expanding their facilities to a neighboring lecturing classroom this summer to accommodate the growth for the fall.

“It's a classroom setting, but it will be changed into an industrial kitchen. So we'll have two kitchens,” said Walters, who has worked with HISD since 1998.

Before a student can enroll in culinary, they have to complete wellness and nutrition classes and have earned a safety certification. There are only 10 students who are in this year's advanced culinary two class.

Hudson baseball team member Austin Woods got into cooking due to cooking with his parents and his grandmother. The high school junior is enjoying all the catering events and competitions that he's been a part of this year.

"I love interacting with people around in the community in doing all over our catering events," Woods said excitedly.

And even though culinary arts is a vocational program, Woods said it definitely involves mathematics.

“We use math every day,” he said while nodding, “We convert certain types of recipes for a certain sizes of people to maybe a larger or smaller amount of people. It comes in to play every day in the kitchen.”

For senior Sage Hardin, he was initially reluctant to enroll in the program even though he helps out with home cooked, homemade meals at home.

“I at first didn't want to enroll in culinary, but once I've gone through this class," Hardin said.

Hudson Culinary Senior who? said "I've catered, I've cooked in competitions. I've cooked in here for different people. My love has gathered and built up that I want to go for the culinary field,” Hardin said.

There are several seniors in the Culinary I class who liked the creativity the class offered, while others just wanted to learn something new.

Hornet Baseball senior Christian Morado said he's learned "how to hold a knife. How to cut. How to cook certain things."

“I didn't know how to cook,” confessed Cheyenne West, a senior. "Once you grow up and go to college and live by yourself, you want to know how to do all this stuff."

Her classmate Lewis Beasley, also a senior, was a bit more confident.

"I already know how to cook, I just wanted to be more experienced," he said. “Plus I want to cook for my wife." He then clarified quickly, “I'm not married, but for my future wife.”

His classmate Bailey Freeman is heading to college in the fall to major in education. She plans to be a teacher.

"I just thought culinary would be fun. And everybody that's graduating was saying, ‘You really need to take culinary when you get a chance to,'” she explained. “I already knew how to cook but being here with my classmates makes it fun, too.”

The Hudson Culinary Practicum will cater the UIL Academic Contest being held Friday, March 27th at Angelina College.

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