Trial run for Discovery High’s Hospitality Pathway targeting food-service careers

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It looked just like a real restaurant – cloth napkins, written menus, servers, even decorative flowers on every table.

But this was a test, only a trial run, in which Discovery High’s new indoor café hosted NUSD Trustees and administrators today for a lunch of grilled salmon or chicken breast, cooked and served by students in the school’s Hospitality Pathway.

A vital cog in NUSD’s Career Technical Education program, Discovery’s Hospitality Pathway brings together students studying Culinary arts and others learning restaurant Hospitality – the former practicing professional cooking, the latter working on meal presentation, service, table busing, and other elements of restaurant operations, including basic cooking techniques.

“Any time you’re teaching them a skill, something they can use later on, I think they enjoy it,” said Lavada Fallon, who teaches Hospitality.

Two Discovery High students recently got hired by the Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento. Culinary Arts teacher Mike Mitchell is hopeful those placements will open doors to many more restaurant jobs for his students. “That can give us credibility to place students with anybody in town,” he said.

Culinary Arts has been taught at Discovery High for several years, but the Hospitality program is new, made possible by expanded teaching facilities that included the indoor café, an outdoor serving area,    five four-burner ovens, a stainless steel washing area, dishwasher, ice machine, and a washer-dryer for cleaning linens and table cloths.

Dohnovan Ledesma, 17, said he’s honored to take Culinary Arts at Discovery because he hopes to be a chef someday. “I like to be creative in what I do,” he said. “Here I can be creative and make other people happy, too. “

Jacky Guzman, 17, said her goal is to be a pediatrician, not a restaurant employee. But she likes being around food and enjoys her classmates in Discovery’s Hospitality course. “We have a good relationship, all of us,” she said. “I love this class.”

Jaedan Barnes, 16, said his uncle and grandfather were excellent cooks – and he’d like to consider the possibilities. “I’m good at it, so I could take it up as a career,” he said of Culinary Arts.

Because the indoor café is for teaching as well as dining, its walls are whiteboards, allowing words to be written on them in marking pen, then wiped off easily. After today’s lunch, NUSD leaders took turns sending messages critiquing the trial run and the performance of Discovery’s cooks and servers.

“What a wonderful lunch!” wrote Associate Supt. Heather Garcia. “The meal was delicious and the experience was lovely!” She ended by drawing a heart and adding: “Go DHS!”

Board President Lisa Kaplan’s message was short and sweet. “Delectable, scrumptious and absolutely outstanding!” she wrote. “Keep up the great job!”