Iron Viking

Mia Luckett, Feature Writer

Walking into the classroom, there were student scattered everywhere, some putting on aprons, others pulling out ingredients, and some pacing, sweating even from nervousness. “Welcome to Chopped” is written on a white board in huge letters, along with a good luck message and a smiley face.
From the looks on some faces, ‘good luck’ may not be enough to calm their minds from the stress of cooking three courses in one hour.
This high pressure cooking competition is an end of the year evaluation for Advanced Foods students.
According to Advanced Foods teacher Janet Marks, students sharpen their culinary skill level by being exposed to more advanced methods of food preparation.
Students learn everything from culinary safety and sanitation to Illinois food code, to how to make fondant cakes and catering.
Marks said that her curriculum is challenging, and she only wants her students to use the best quality of foods.
“I do not believe in convenience products, they are not as healthy for you as homemade food,” Marks said.
Marks even said that teachers Shallon Malfeo & Josephine Bachus provide Foods students with an organic garden.
Marks added that emphasis is placed on students having the opportunity in the spring to become certified with the Servsafe Managers Certification.
This year 13 current Advanced Foods students have actually received this certificate, including senior Emma Nwumeh.
“I like how its hands on so you get to improve your skills all the time and practice cooking techniques, knife skills, etc.,” Nwumeh said. “I’m usually the one who tries out different recipes at my house. I love good food and I also like that it’s a creative process. You can experiment with it and be creative.”
Unlike Nwumeh, sophomore Alexis Robinson and senior Tamikka Bobo said that they were encouraged to take the class by their guidance counselors.
“I actually realized how much I love to cook and bake while taking the class and it has definitely helped me grow. I’ve learned so many new skills, like how important food safety is,” Robison said.
Bobo said that during the course she found her passion for baking. She has even gone on to receive a gold medal in the fondant cakes category during an FCCLA competition.
“Class has definitely helped me grow. I now know how to work with people in the kitchen. I’ve learned a lot of different knife skills,” Bobo said.
Bobo said that the work in class is not at all challenging, as long as passion is present.
“As long as you have a love for
culinary baking all you have to do is apply yourself in order to succeed,” Bobo said.
Marks added that she has definitely seen the success in her students when it comes to baking. One of her students whom she described as an ‘exceptional baker’, Jordyn Gaines, opened her own bakery before the age of 21.
“The students don’t know it, but when I share my recipes with them, I am sharing my passion. It’s the way I show them that I care for them,” Marks said.  “I welcome the opportunity to work alongside of them developing their skills.  Once the students find their passion they often surpass me!”
Marks said that she loves to see her students’ progress, and that she provides them with opportunities for growth. She added that she hopes to have an impact on all of her students.
“I have never been told ‘I will never use this information’.  I share my recipes with my students because I want them to have the skills to be a good cook,” Marks said. “I still remember one of my students about seven years ago throw down her back pack and say ‘I have waited all day for this class’. Those are the moments that make a lasting positive impression on me.”