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OGHS’s Patriot Café serves city VIPs


A student prepares the cheese ravioli tossed with fresh pesto sauce as Dr. Luis Rankins-Ibarra, superintendent of the Escondido Elementary School District and Mayor Paul McNamara tour the kitchen.

The top culinary students at Orange Glen High School put on the Patriot Café last week for some of Escondido’s movers and shakers, including the mayor, city manager, city attorney , and top elementary and high school district administrators.

The “Café” took place at the high school’s commercial kitchen classroom, which has a facility that would make any restaurant owner envious.

The luncheon happened just after a torrential rain had fallen on the campus, so that a collection of umbrellas congregated at the entrance.

The culinary students prepared a gourmet luncheon that began with an appetizer of tomato crostini with whipped feta, continued with an entrée of cheese ravioli tossed with fresh pesto sauce, chicken and fresh vegetables, and topped off with a fluffy dessert: white chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce.

One satisfied customer said that he was going to return to his office with a “food coma.” Can’t think of a nicer way to spend the afternoon, myself, especially this time of year.

Guests enjoy some “Patriot Lemonade” as they wait to be served the courses. Dr. Luis Rankins-Ibarra, superintendent of the Escondido Elementary School District is chatting with Doug Paulson of the Elementary School Board with Jay Petrek, assistant city manager. In the background is Dr. Ann Staffieri, superintendent of the Escondido High School District, sharing a moment with city council member Mike Morasco. The students in the photo, Fernando Rigo (left) and Natalie Escobar, were seniors in the program who explain details to the guests.

OGHS Principal Stacey Adame explained that the Culinary Arts program came into being six years ago. The Patriot Café is one result of the program. It gives students real world experience in preparing food for others.

OGHS’s Culinary Arts program includes four different year-long courses. Two are articulated with Mesa Community College, which allows students to earn as much as 6 units of college credit through the Culinary Arts and Food Science Class and the Advanced Culinary Arts Class.

Students start with the Culinary Arts and Food Science class, which any students in all four grades can take. They can then advance to any of the other advanced level courses that include International Cuisine, Baking and Pastry and Advanced Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management. All the classes take place in the commercial kitchen classroom.

About 380 students are currently taking culinary arts classes at OGHS.

The classes employ skills that students are using in other courses, such as math, science, reading and writing.

The program is six years old. Instructor Krish Sovacool explained that several students over the years have ended up working at local restaurants. One of the students, Natalie Escobar, explained how the cooking classes, “really help make me independent and able to cook for myself.”

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