This program prepares students to work in the culinary arts.
By Blake Carter
Dorsey High School’s culinary arts program recently opened Cafe Ole’ in grand fashion. Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson was in attendance, as well as community leaders, corporate partners, teachers and students.
“This is a celebration of this program, and a student-led restaurant,” said Student-Body President Jada Salazar (who is applying to Yale University). “Students can come here, order some food, and be in a really nice environment. The colors are green because we have Dorsey pride. This will be our hangout spot.”
The food that is sold at Cafe Ole’ will be prepared by students in the culinary arts program.
“The training that is given is rigorous,” said Sonja Mason-Briscoe, culinary arts teacher at Dorsey. “It gets the students ready for an internship, or to go and get a job, or to be accepted into some of the college programs. What’s being taught at the high school level is an entry for those who would want to pursue that as a career.”
Dorsey’s program has kitchen equipment that is very similar to what restaurants have, and Mason-Briscoe has guided students to culinary arts schools and full time jobs.
“If you’re trying to get a job in a kitchen at a restaurant, she’ll show you the rules and regulations of how everything works,” said Amari Battles, who graduated from Dorsey last year. “This career can take me a lot of places. I have my certification in cooking. She gives you a certification that allows you to work in a real kitchen.”
Battles is currently a student at Santa Monica College, and he plans to transfer to U.C. Santa Barbara, which has a culinary arts major.
“I knew that I liked to cook, but being in the program actually made me realize my love for cooking,” he said. “And I can make a good living doing it.”
This project was a group effort by elected officials, Los Angeles Unified School District officials, and corporate partners.
“I think that this is a testament of what can happen when really good people, really good educators, and really good companies can come together and brainstorm an idea and actually make it happen," said Neils Cotter with Carmel Partners. "We’ve created real results and real opportunities versus theoretical type initiatives. This cafe is a platform for these students to learn small business, help be an amenity to the school, and then eventually be able to make products.”
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