FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - May 2016 - Kansas City
Learning that Feeds the Stomach and the Mind
By Gloria Gale
One local culinary program nurtures high school students as if young seedlings and watches them bloom wherever they are planted.
Something is perking in a unique bistro–Broadmoor Bistro to be exact.
This student-run skills application, part of the Shawnee Mission School District, offers comprehensive culinary arts and commercial baking instruction to students’ grades 10 -12 who enroll in year-long elective classes.
Housed at Broadmoor Technical Center in Overland Park, the bistro offers dining events created, cooked, served, and run by the students.
Cook, Train, and Manage
Chef Bob, as he’s known, is Lead Instructor Robert Brassard, the spark that has ignited the approximately 1,700 students who’ve graduated since the bistro opened in 2000.
Attending alongside Brassard is Chef Justin Hoffman, former graduate of the program.
The goal of the culinary arts program is to provide students with enough skills training in a commercial kitchen environment to be restaurant-ready when they graduate. “With our certification by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and partnering with the James Beard Foundation, our program is one of few in the United States,” says Hoffman.
Instruction is housed in a 3,000 square-foot bistro addition, along with a bakery, full culinary display kitchen, and classroom with auditorium seating totaling approximately 4,700 square feet.
Within those parameters, Brassard and Hoffman may teach how to coddle eggs, but they don’t coddle kids who want to be chefs.
“It’s hands-on. Every student learns everything, making them nearly ready to launch into a food-service career by graduation. Working in a public setting when serving accounts for 40% of their grade,” says Brassard.
Not only are the students learning how to design the menu and prepare and serve the dinners to the public, they have the opportunity to work alongside guest chefs such as Michael Smith, Joe West (a former graduate of the program), and Megan and Colby Garrelts, to name a few.
“One of our proudest accomplishments is our Urban Farm, a half-acre garden located on school property that took 2 years to plan,” says Hoffman.
The 11,000 square-foot plot using organic farming practices is the capstone of urban agriculture. “This will add a variety of skills to help students learn where the food they cook comes from. They also learn how to work the soil, compost, plant, grow, and how to go out into the world and feed people,” he adds.
Come harvest time, a lush bounty from potatoes to carrots, peppers to herbs is a great example of a farm-to-table experience. This garden enables kids to figure out that growing their own food or farming is a possibility.
Former graduate, Jenna Miller, says that until now, she never thought of farming as a job.
“Because I’ve been working at the school farm and learning about growing, about harvesting, about everything that goes into growing these ingredients, now I see it as a job that is part of my industry.”
Deliciousness in Four Courses
According to the Bistro mission, “The Broadmoor Bistro menus are the result of a collaborative effort between students and teachers. The menus are a unique and creative blend of fine dining that allows the students to experience a valuable array of culinary choices. Menus will be published for current and future events as they become available. The menus are also included in the details of each calendar event.”
Every Wednesday, during the school year, a four-course chef’s dinner is served. Seating times are open between 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Cost is $30 per person.
Education never tasted so good.
Broadmoor Bistro http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile.aspx?rid=93991&restref=93991>
6701 W 83rd Street, Overland Park, KS 66204-3900
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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.
As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients.
Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program.
Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria: firstname.lastname@example.org