Get ready to eat because our 12th grade Wildcats have been cooking up a storm! This past week, our seniors were invited to the Capstone Culinary Event sponsored by CPS. This event symbolized the completion of their three year journey in the Culinary Arts Program. The students who participated in this event displayed what they learned both in the classroom and the kitchen over the last three years here at Clemente.
The theme for this year was “Foods Teenagers Eat” and our Wildcats loved it. They used this opportunity to explore culinary techniques with candy, chips, and other foods that teens typically love to eat; they made dishes that represent the student body here at Clemente. After a huge debate about which singular food item would be the central ingredient in this project, our seniors finally decided on using the popular hot corn chips called Takis. Next, they decided on what they were going to cook and how they were going to incorporate the Takis into their dishes. It took two days, but they finally decided to make Takis crusted skirt steak skewers with Takis-flavored butter and grilled fruit skewers seasoned with Takis.
The skirt steak skewers were marinated in lime and garlic, then crusted with crushed Takis powder. Students also prepared watermelon and pineapple fruit skewers with crushed Takis powder. One student suggested that we grill the fruit to give it color and to caramelize some of the natural sugars. It was a great Idea because the skewers not only looked beautiful but also tasted great. While Takis may be considered as just another junk food, but the choice to use them in the construction of these two dishes demonstrates our students’ knowledge of flavor profiling. The combination of chili and lime present in both dishes is, in some respects, a hallmark in many Latin cuisines and is widely used.
At the end of this event, students from across the city were awarded scholarships to various culinary schools. It was nice to see young people being rewarded for doing things they love to do, in this instance, cooking. It was inspiring to see other students win scholarships. One young lady expressed that culinary arts gave her an opportunity to express herself without words, by teaching her how to do so with food art. When students spoke on the microphone it was incredible to see how grateful and appreciative they were for being a part of the Culinary Arts Programs in Chicago Public Schools. Our seniors will be able to reflect on this capstone event and be proud to have demonstrated all they have learned thus far with such creativity and ingenuity. What an inspirational way to close out the end of the year.