"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
The Culinary Arts Café is open Thursdays at noon from now