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Cooking Up the Next Generation By REMY TUMIN chefs Kelci Greer, Jack O’Malley and Ryan Fisher slice and dice. What to have for lunch — grilled hamburgers or cafeteria food? It was an easy choice for the culinary arts students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on Tuesday late morning before they started prep work for a dinner function that night. Ethan Himmel flipped burgers in the kitchen while Carlos Guzman toasted bread in the convection oven and got out cheese. “Do you want to roast that chicken off?” culinary arts teacher Jack O’Malley asked his students who were still deciding what to eat for lunch. Mr. O’Malley had planned to teach a dish of chicken with apples on Tuesday, but suddenly dinner preparations were a priority and the chicken would go to waste if it weren’t cooked.
Guest chef Daniel Sauer, owner of 7a Foods, an Aquinnah farm and catering company, arrived at about 11:30 a.m. with an armful of lobsters, ready to get down to business. An Italian family-style dinner was planned for that night sponsored by Island Grown Schools, as a benefit for the department’s Petricone Scholarship fund. Mr. Sauer and the culinary arts students worked together all day on the dinner.
rning Glory Farm. “I like having different chefs in here and having different personalities to work with the kids,” Mr. O’Malley said. “It’s good for them, I enjoy it. I’ve had a lot of kids get job offers in the past from the different chefs that have come through. They may see something in a particular kid, and offer them a job or remember them when they do come for an interview later on. It’s a win-win,” he said, adding: “The more we can support the local farmers, the more I can expose the kids to local chefs — it’s great.” Mr. O’Malley has led the culinary arts program for the past seven years, bringing in guest chefs often. He and his students have worked with Michael Brisson of l’étoile, Robert Lionette and Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch and Top Chef season one finalist Dave Martin. And even when they’re not preparing for functions, Mr. O’Malley’s students are constantly cooking. He typically runs them through a skill packet that includes 12 recipes — three entrees, three starches, three soups and three desserts. His method of teaching has produced many Culinary Institute of America graduates; some have returned to the Island.
Freshmen and sophomore classes generally are more instructional, where students are able to work with recipes and get used to the flow of the kitchen. Juniors, seniors and some sophomores put their skills to use with customers, including at monthly senior lunches or backdoor bistro days, when they sell à la carte orders to faculty and staff.