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Life Lessons and Grilled Chicken Available at Culinary Arts Cafe

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 25, 2012
"Hot pan...little oil," says Chef Jeff Zahniser.  He has Aaliyha Navarro preparing to drop some marinated chicken in a pan in the Culinary Cafe's kitchen.  She's 14 and one of nearly 100 at-risk kids at Palmiter who have had problems in "regular" schools, "When I first came here, I was like, "No, I kind of want to leave."  But, now that I'm here, it's like, "Oh, I have a lot of opportunities and the problems with a regular school -the things I have over here wouldn't be over there."
Every year, the students at Palmiter go through two months of the culinary arts program and then open the café to the public.  The kids cook and serve  meals to guests seated in black chairs at twenty tables with white tablecloths.
Chef Zahniser says the culinary program allows kids to learn from real-life situations,"So they're learning culinary math, they're learning hospitality, food costing, business profit and loss statements, reading  in the field of culinary arts and hospitality in some of the literature and so they can kind of bring it all together and make it real and make it practical."
Tyler Stout is 16.  He's putting bread onto pans headed for the oven, "I love it.  I love it."  When asked why, he says, "Because it's just good work experience and get me ready for actually working."
Chef Zahniser says the students working in the café have a leg up when it comes to getting a food service job.  These students are certified with a state food-handler card, which is now required of anyone who wants to work in a restaurant.  Zahniser says about half the people who need a card don't have one.  
The Culinary Arts Café is open Thursdays at noon from now until May.
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