Orange and Osceola County Youth Learn Cooking Skills During Summer Program

These are some of the meals and appetizers that CareerSource Central Florida Summer Youth Program participants are learning to make during their Valencia College Culinary course.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses

The Downtown Campus Culinary program has been busy inspiring Central Florida youth to pursue culinary careers and learn how to prepare nutritious meals as part of CareerSource Central Florida’s Summer Youth Program. The program, for 15-19 years old individuals from Orange and Osceola counties, also connects youth and young adults to opportunities offered by various schools, technical and vocational programs.

“This is an amazing program in its second year for Culinary at the Walt Disney World Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts,” said Dean of the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts Alex Erdmann. “We give high school students the opportunity to explore a culinary career and acquire the necessary skills to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their families in a hands-on environment.”

The students participating in the Culinary program — offered virtually — are taking what would normally be a 12-week summer course in just four weeks. On Mondays, the course covers sanitation. Then on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, students view a Prep and Learn video, which covers the day’s lesson, prep and cooking processes, followed by the second portion of the class, which is a live cooking demo with Professor of Culinary Management Steven Rujak, where students can follow along or opt to cook later. View part of a demo below.

Each student must prepare the food and upload a photo of the dish and a tasting panel from their families.

CareerSource Central Florida has arranged with Instacart to deliver all ingredients to students homes for their Prep and Learn and live cooking.

“This is such an advantage our young students have,” Steven shared. “I only wish I had something like this when I was in high school.”

And they truly do have an advantage. Not only do students gain new skills and learn what college can offer, but they also earn a Food Safety and Handling certification for completing the program. Additionally, each participant receives a stipend of $200 a week, plus a $200 bonus at the end of the program — up to $1,000 total.

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