Culinary arts students at LHS learning to cook with passion

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By Greg Summers

The culinary arts classes at Lancaster High School are taught in such a way that students can take it to the next level if they want to. And that’s just what two of them plan to do by attending Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.Omeka Robinson, 17, who graduates on Friday, has already been accepted at the culinary arts-based campus and Blair Mingo, a junior, is working to get there.Both consider themselves to be “foodies,” with ardent interests in food and the food business.They’d rather watch “Good Eats” with Alton Brown than the “American Idol” finale.“Some of the things that they put together on cooking shows, you’re totally amazed,” Mingo said.Both are second year students in Greg Shipston’s culinary arts class at Lancaster Career center, where they have sharpened their cooking skills in a classroom that’s lined with stainless steel prep tables, stoves, ovens and refrigerators.Students in the class learn more than how to cook sauces and soups from scratch and fry chicken that’s perfect, Shipston said.They study restaurant management, sanitation, proper cooking measurements and temperature ranges (both Fahrenheit and Celsius), and how to use math to change yields at the drop of a chef’s hat to feed 200 instead of 20.Last fall, the students catered for the first time and provided food for the Lancaster High School sports banquet.“They got rave reviews, too,” Shipston said. “All of them are doing a good job.”From free materials Shipston finds on the Internet, to local firefighters talking about how to use fire extinguishers in the kitchen and DHEC inspectors and cooking games,he uses every novel approach he can to teach his students. Plus, Shipston said he’s been pleasantly surprised at how much his classes have learned about healthy eating through studying various cooking methods besides deep frying and using different spices, seasoning, oils and vinegars to awaken food.Shipston said this is a group of high school students who know what calamari (squid) is.“My goal is to open their eyes to the world of food,” he said. “I’d really like them to make a career of it. There are many opportunities out there, should they choose to take it to the next level.”That’s just what Robinson and Mingo have in mind.Mingo said the culinary arts class will give them an edge at Johnson & Wales.“We already know the cuts of meat and a lot of the French terminology we’ll need,” he said. “We won’t be fish out of water when we get there.”The culinary arts class has also taught them something else.“If you are passionate about cooking, you can taste the difference,” Robinson said.Mingo agrees.It’s doesn’t matter if you know every cooking technique there is to know, you still have to put yourself into it,” he said.That type of passion is evident in these two dishes. Robinson’s Cabbage with Smoked Sausage is an easy made-from-scratch, one- pot meal.Mingo’s Hot and Kickin’ Hot Dogs definitely further the basic frankfurter.

– Contact features editor Greg Summers at 283-1156.

Cabbage with Smoked SausageIngredients4 tablespoons unsalted butter2 cups chopped onions3 tablespoons dark brown sugar10 packed cups shredded cabbage1 cup chicken stock2 Bay leaves2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/2 pound smoked sausage

Directions- Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Add cabbage and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock, bay leaves and vegetable oil, stirring well.- Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.- Stir in brown sugar and remaining chicken stock, mixing well. Cook about two minutes, stirring occasionally.- Add sausage and cook for five minutes.- Remove from heat, discard bay leaves and serve immediately.

– By Omeka Robinson

Hot and Kickin’ Hot DogsIngredients8 hot dogs8 hot dog buns1/2 cup green bell pepper1/4 cup chopped onion1/2 cup chopped bacon1/3 cup chopped tomatoes4 teaspoons mayonnaise1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or cayenne pepperSalt and pepper to taste

Directions- Chop onions, bell pepper, tomato and bacon. Set tomato aside.- Saute onions, bell pepper and bacon in a skillet until bacon is crisp and onions are translucent. Let mixture drain on paper towel to remove excess bacon grease, but don’t discard. - Place buns on a baking sheet, set oven on low broil and toast to desired level, constantly monitoring. - Place hot dogs in skillet and saute in bacon/onion/bell pepper drippings.- This is where the fun begins; lightly slather toasted buns with mayonnaise, then fill with hot dogs, topping with onion/bell pepper/bacon mixture and tomatoes.- Sprinkle with crushed red pepper/cayenne pepper and salt and pepper.

– By Blair Mingo