CONYERS - Students in the Rockdale Career Academy's culinary arts team have had a busy semester - in addition to winning a state competition and learning from chefs at world-renowned culinary school Le Cordon Bleu, the program has become the first in the state to be accredited by the American Culinary Federation.
Wes Goodman, program coordinator and culinary arts instructor at RCA, said the Career Academy is the first school in Georgia to undergo an ACF site visit and will be the first school in the state to be given accreditation.
He said the honor comes as a result of a year's worth of work.After visiting an ACF-accredited high school in Gainesville, Fla., he submitted a 157-page self-study document application that included such information as courses taught, curricula and lesson plans, facilities and equipment information, funding, community services, instructor credentials and other information.
Afterward, a three-member ACF team visited the school to observe the instructor, and the class held an opening day reception with food prepared and served by the students."
This certificate is highly desirable by the industry, and post-secondary culinary arts schools will award course credit," Goodman said. "It is the goal of RCA and (Rockdale County Public Schools) to always raise the bar for our programs, and we are strongly encouraged to seek industry certification."
This accreditation comes after its culinary team won the Culinary Arts State Competition at a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America leadership conference in March.
Students Amber Pate, Pernell Presley and Nicole Parker trained for several weeks by preparing foods from past competitions and squared off against 13 other teams in Athens in March.
"Teams have 30 minutes to set up their stations and another 60 minutes to prepare a salad with dressing, entree with two side vegetables and a dessert," Goodman said. "All of this is prepared using one portable propane burner and two tables. The menu is a 'blind' menu, which is given to them just before the event starts."
The team will compete in the national competition in Nashville, Tenn., on July 12.
On Friday, two chefs from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta also visited the class to teach them about chocolate, a special treat after normally learning about food and food safety, hearing lectures and demonstrations and working on labs.
"One of our goals is to encourage students to attend post-secondary culinary arts schools," Goodman said. "However, there are hundreds of jobs (and) positions in the food service industry that a student may enter. We need supervisors, managers, bakers, cooks and general service personnel too."
He said students who complete all of the three courses offered at RCA will be well ahead of the students not enrolled in such programs.
"Our students will be SERVSAFE trained and certified, will have ACF certification and will have actual hands-on participation in real world catering events," he said. "Students become more confident, more reassured and have more drive to exceed expectations."
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.