Students Cook up Careers at Worcester Tech - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Students Cook up Careers at Worcester Tech

Posted: 11/06/2017 08:35:00 -05:00 Updated:

NEWARK, Md. - Chef Phil Cropper knows his way around a kitchen; years of culinary experience have taught him a thing or two about planning, prepping, and plating a meal.  

The fast-paced, hectic environment is commonplace in almost any restaurant around the country.  Except in Cropper's case, he's working in a state-of-the-art kitchen at Worcester Technical High School.

Cropper is the lead instructor of the Culinary Arts Program at WTHS. He said what students gain from the program is something most students wouldn't learn unless they attend culinary school after graduation.

"This is the real-life experience. We can do all the textbook stuff every day but this is what the kids (will) be doing every day in a restaurant," said Cropper.

On an evening in mid-October, the culinary program was tasked with serving dinner to a large group of local professionals who would be meeting at the school.

After planning the meal in the classroom and teaching students how to prepare it, Cropper said the real lessons come on event night.

"They cook on the line, get yelled at, get orders out, expedite it, serve it, make the customer happy," said Cropper.

They are all lessons that can set students up for a future culinary career or something more immediate like a summer job.

Cropper said his program is just one example of how vocational and technical education has changed over the years.

"People don't realize what it is now," said Cropper. "What (vocational training) was when I was in school 20 some years ago is totally different from what it is now."

He said while traditional vocational programs still exist, the focus of today's programs is college and career readiness.

Since the Culinary Arts program is certified by the American Culinary Federation, Cropper said students can earn certifications in nutrition, management, sanitation, and culinary arts once they complete the one-year program.

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