Students Come Together to Showcase Their Skills at ‘Long Table Dinner’

SAN FRANCISCO — Students who are part of a culinary program at a San Francisco continuation high school will be putting out dozens of place settings this evening as they prepare to serve a “long table dinner” to debut their cooking skills.

The “Heat of the Kitchen” culinary arts class at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School near Alamo Square Park is a traditional cooking course run by local chef Alice Craven for students who were previously on the verge of dropping out.

Tonight, the students enrolled in the course will be preparing, cooking, and serving a sold-out dinner starting at 6 p.m. on a table that runs the length of the school’s main floor.

This is the third annual “long table dinner” event at the school. The event usually features a four-course meal starting with appetizers and ending with dessert, using ingredients and techniques the students learned during the eight-week class at the school’s teaching kitchen.

Some items on tonight’s menu tonight are lentil soup, orange-glazed chicken, lemon shrimp confit and a surprise dessert. The meal
is alcohol-free but features Navarro Vineyards grape juice from Mendocino County.

There is a waitlist for the dinner, which quickly reached capacity. The tickets are donation-based, with a suggested donation of $35 that goes back to the program.

The culinary course has been offered at Ida B. Wells since 2009.

School and district employees, including Superintendent Richard Carranza, will be attending tonight’s event, along with visitors from the food, hotel and hospitality industries, San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Heidi Anderson said.

She said that each year after the course ends, at least one or two students find internships in a kitchen or pursue a cooking career.

Anderson has attended previous dinners and said the events allow the diners to see firsthand “how hard the kids work.”

She said the students, who previously struggled at other high schools, come together and become a team.

“They see how hard it is to put together a formal dinner,” she said.

Another San Francisco high school, John O’Connell in the Mission District, offers a two-year culinary arts and restaurant management program for juniors and seniors.

(Copyright 2014, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)

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