Students serve Caribbean cuisine at industry showcase

Students serve Caribbean cuisine at industry showcase
Kat Taveras, program manager for Food Education Fund, a non-profit, (forefront) with students, after lunch at the Food & Finance School showcase in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Eleventh grade students of Food & Finance High School, a culinary-arts institution, served fine Caribbean style cooking, on Thursday, Nov. 21, to impress top restaurateurs, at a showcase in the school’s Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan location.

Guests sampled sorrel drink, ackee and codfish, served with festival callaloo, jerk chicken served with coconut rice and peas, stewed oxtail, served with white beans, coconut rice and peas, and curried chicken roti, served with Caribbean macaroni & cheese.

Jamaican-American, Chef Geoffrey Tulloch, who has been with the program for 11 years, said the students did an amazing job in preparing the menu, titled: Bombastic.

“Many of the students have Caribbean background, so they love the food, because it is cooked in their homes,” said Chef Geoffrey, noting that Latino and African-American students make up the program, funded by Cornell University.

Professor Philson A. A. Warner, Cornell University founding director of the Hydroponic, Aquaponics, Learning Lab, where the high quality vegetables for the culinary program are grown, said Cornell has a relationship with six mini schools on campus.

The Trinidad & Tobago-born applied scientist, of the Technology & Sustainable Agriculture Department, who still relishes spicy food, hence, his choice of the jerk chicken meal, noted that the applied research labs have improved technologies in food production and horticulture agricultural sustainability, with aspects of medicine, because of healthy options in schools

“The labs, run by Cornell University, and housed on the school’s rooftop where the vegetables are organically grown in a clean, safe environment,” said Wilson, a scientist for 40 years, who represented Cornell University around the world.

Erin Fairbanks, chair, Junior Board of Education feels the students are getting better every year, and noted that the program has grown, to bring a variety of influences, and skill sets from chefs around the world.

“This meal, is particularly exciting, because Chef Geoffrey has a Jamaican background, and many of the students are from that part of the world, so, to be able to produce similar to what you are eating at home, for a restaurant, is a singular experience, she said, noting how well the alliance partners enjoyed the food, something that reinforces an identity for the kids, and shows them, that their culture has a place in the food industry.

Executive Director of Food Education Fund, Eliza Loehr, thanked partnership industry professionals for their support, noting that the Caribbean food, was the best the restaurant program has cooked so far, adding that in addition to the food and hospitality aspects, students are also trained in front-house skills.

The 16 and 17-year-old students will join the internship program next year.

Andrew Rigie, executive director, NYC Hospitality Alliance, a nonprofit, trade association, that represents and services the restaurant Nightlife Industry NYC, said the Food & Finance High School is an incredible institution, and the only public culinary high school in New York city.

“Students come from all over to learn all the skill sets, information, and education, so they could have rewarding and promising careers working in top restaurants in NYC.

“We are always trying to find ways to connect restaurants with the school so students could be supported in all types of capacities,” he said, noting that the students get internships in restaurants.

The program also prepares students to become entrepreneurs, said Rigie, sharing, that the pupils, prepared multi-course Caribbean influenced lunch for everyone.

“It was delicious, and its really exciting that the students are learning all different techniques and preparing cuisines from all around the world, which is reflective of the melting pot of New York City, that supports the school, focuses on kitchen classes, and hands-on cooking.

“We focus on entrepreneurship and front house, by developing this class, of hospitality management, taught to freshmen, who also run the only school café in New York City,” said Taveras, adding, students get more opportunity in customer service oriented jobs, to show that there is more to the industry, than just being a chef.”

According to Michael Johnston, the student who represent the next generation of the hospitality industry and come from all five boroughs cooked up a traditional Caribbean-style meal for potential future employers and colleagues.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, with more than 2,000 members representing New York restaurants and nightlife venues, organized the participation by industry professionals.

Participants included Alicart Restaurant Group, (Carmine’s, Virgil” Real Barbecue) Corner Table Restaurants (The Smith), The Fireman Hospitality Group (Bond 45, Café Fiorello, Brooklyn Diner) Le Bernardin; Magnolia Bakery; Momofuku; NoHo Hospitality Group (Bar Primi, Library at the Public, The Dutch); Rosa Mexicano and Sugarfish.

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