Top Chefs: CCHS Foodies Hone Their Skills In The Culinary Club
FeaturesGeneral Features February 28, 2013 Admin
BY STACEY PASTERNAK
Looking into the four kitchens of Ms. Braman’s and Ms. Daniels’s early childcare rooms on a regular school day, one would think they’ve just entered a ghost town. After all, we haven’t had cooking classes here at CCHS in a long time, so why not get rid of all the stoves, pots, pans, etcetera to make room for something else? But, if we could all witness what goes on in those very kitchens on the last Wednesday of each month after school, we’d be pleasantly surprised to see that these kitchens have not gone to waste. The culinary club was just an idea in senior Ian Schreiber’s head until two years ago, when it blossomed from a thought into a concrete reality.
Schreiber started the club during his sophomore year. All year he prepared the paperwork, classroom and other details so that the club would be ready to begin in his junior year.
“I started the club because I wanted to learn how to cook, really,” Schreiber said. “I didn’t know how to cook. Sophomore year I wanted to take a home economics class at school, but they didn’t offer it. That’s when I decided to make my own club and put it right here.”
Along with this paperwork, Schreiber had to pick a teacher to be sponsor for the club. Last year, Ms. Braman was that teacher. This year, however, seeing as Ms. Braman could no longer be the sponsor, she suggested they choose world history teacher Dr. Craine as her replacement.
“She had told them that I might be interested and I agreed because I like to cook,” Craine said.
The responsibilities of being the club’s new sponsor leave Craine busy, but happy.
“It’s been a great deal of fun so far. For me, it means a lot of organization because I have to go do all the shopping and make sure I have enough supplies,” Craine said. “The amount of dishes we make depends on how many people are coming to cook that month, because you really can’t have more than four to five people in one kitchen at a time.”
Since this club meets in these small kitchens the last Wednesday of every month, it is not highly publicized.
“I think it’s because we don’t really advertise on CTV, it’s really just people who want to be in the club,” Schreiber said. “No one’s doing this for a college application or for community service. People are doing this because they want to. They want to learn how to cook, they like food and they want to do something productive with their time after school.”
Because of the club’s unique setup, members who want to cook bring five dollars so that Dr. Craine can go out and buy the ingredients every month, depending on the theme.
“The first theme was crepes, so we learned how to make all kinds of crepes. The next, we did pies. And then it was puff pastry month. In January, it was potato,” Craine said. “We try to do a variety of techniques, and then the different ways you can use those same techniques.”
The club is very democratic and members of the club have a big part in choosing these themes. On the first Wednesday of every month, they meet in Dr. Craine’s room and discuss what kinds of food they want to make.
“We brainstorm and then ask what everyone feels like cooking this month. Whatever the majority wants, we will do,” Schreiber said. “We usually take three or four courses or dishes or pastries, write them on the board, and then we have everyone vote one by one. Then, we do process of elimination. Usually we cook two to three meals, so for the most part people get to cook what they want to.”
The members of this club love that they get to brainstorm at these meetings just as much as Schreiber and Craine do.
“We decide what we want to cook every meeting, which is great,” junior Haley Gomez said. “My favorite part about the culinary club so far is being able to learn skills from the other members.”
As it turns out, Gomez’s favorite aspect of the club is what Ian wanted every culinary club participant to experience.
“This club has definitely improved my cooking skills,” Schreiber said. “As a member, you get more experience, you see how everyone has a way of preparing their food and how everyone does things very differently. It’s just a learning experience where you can learn from everyone.”
When Schreiber went to Spain for six months as a foreign exchange student, he brought these cooking skills along with him. He came back with a new zest for cooking styles of a Spaniard.
“I learned how to cook so many different foods, Spanish tortilla, gazpacho, salmorejo, San Jacobo, all these things,” Schreiber said. “And that made me want to share everything I’ve learned with the people here.”
Schreiber did just that, which made for some even more amazing memories to look back on, as he gets ready for graduation.
“My favorite memory of this club was being able to cook with my friends. It’s always fun,” Schreiber said. “We made a lot of meals together and had a lot of fun while we did it. It’s not boring, like a class. It’s really entertaining.”
Though he leaves CCHS this year, this love for cooking and the culinary club is not something Schreiber ever plans on abandoning.
“I see myself in the future possibly opening up a restaurant,” Schreiber said. “Managing it, cooking, serving, the whole nine yards. I don’t necessarily want to be a chef in a restaurant, but I’d want to have the restaurant and cook in it. That’s what I can see myself doing.”