December 5, 2021

maconfectioner

The accomplished food makers

SAISD cooks sharpen skills at Culinary Institute of America

3 min read

As Disney Maldonado stepped up to the kitchen counter at the Culinary Institute of America’s demonstration kitchen, a group of her colleagues clapped and cheered, hoping to give her some confidence before the race.

She was up against a fellow San Antonio Independent School District cook, the two of them vying to see who could turn a bowl of liquid cream into a smooth whipped cream topping the fastest using only a whisk.

It was part of an energetic day of training this week at the renowned culinary school meant to teach SAISD cooks and kitchen managers new skills that they can use on the job. The competition was low stakes, but the cooks wanted the bragging rights.

After about a minute of frenzied whisking, Maldonado raised the bowl above her head and flipped it over, the lack of drip proving to her teammates and the competition that her cream had reached the perfect consistency, and more importantly, that she could add a new cooking skill to her résumé.

The kitchen's open for the whole dining room to watch the student cooks in action at Savor, the student-run restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

The kitchen’s open for the whole dining room to watch the student cooks in action at Savor, the student-run restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

Mike Sutter /Staff

“It’s a new experience. You learn things you didn’t know before, and you can take them back home to use, or at work,” said Maldonado, who said she learned to cook at home. “It’s nice to get out of the school kitchen for a while and then come out here and enjoy it.”

The training was the result of a unique partnership between the CIA and SAISD that for the past few years has taught the school district’s cooks kitchen skills such as food preparation, kitchen organization and knife skills.

The goal is to instill in the cooks the techniques and strategies they need to be more efficient in the fast-paced school kitchen environment and to empower them to then teach other cooks those same skills.

“We want to invest in our employees and this is one way that we’re able to do that,” said Ansilee Trevino, the nutrition coordinator at SAISD. “We want to give them skills to be able to take back and utilize at their campuses to help be more efficient in everything that we do, especially providing quality food for our students.”

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