KALISPELL — The smell of fresh chicken piccata and crab cakes showered the Glacier High School conference room Monday as instructor students served lunch to industry leaders in the Flathead Valley.
The Culinary Arts Program gives students a chance to earn certifications and to compete in cooking and management competitions across the state.
Tamara Fischer, who is in her second year in charge of the program, says the support from industry leaders is needed so that students can earn the proper certifications.
She also pointed out that the success of the program goes hand-and-hand with giving students hours of real industry service.
“Industry leaders are talking to the kids and saying, ‘hey, I could use your help this summer, I’ll help you get those hours you need for your certification’. So, it was a key to making this program work."
Senior Monti Montignani says he decided to take the culinary course to better his skills in the kitchen and hopes the payoff will lead to healthier meals.
“I just kind of wanted to be able to like go out of high school and at least know how to make myself dinner -- something beneficial so that I’m not just going through the drive thru and getting some junk food. Something to actually sustain me when I’m on my own,” said Montignani.
Fisher works with 90 students and several compete in statewide competitions each year in Bozeman.
She says the program is for students who would like to work in the service industry after high school, as well as for those who just want to touch up their skills in the kitchen.
“The students that are serious leave with certifications. The students who are just in it to learn how to cook for college learn a couple gourmet dishes,” said Fisher.
Fisher says they hope to become the first high school in the state to have a certified Culinary Arts Program by next year.