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Something's Cooking at Sackville High

Written by Bobbie-Lynn Hall

The Weekly News

Published on April 30, 2010

Chef James Henderson (centre) oversees the work

of students at Sackville High. Darrell Oake Photo

Teachers and students at Sackville High are praising a five week culinary program that wrapped up last week. 

Learning Centre teacher Lauren Emanuel found out about the program and thought it would be a great learning opportunity no only for her students but for students in the O2 (Options and Opportunities) program and others who may not be fully engaged in their studies.

The school kitchen had always catered small student and/or teacher events, but the culinary experience Emanuel was thinking about would take "cooking class" to a whole new level.  She applied for and was awarded a grant to go ahead, but there were stipulations including the program had to be run by a Red Seal chef.

With more than 20 years experience in the culinary industry, HRM Chef James Henderson fit the bill.

For two days a week for five weeks, 20 students donned chef hats and coats and learned to prep, cook and serve everything from upside down pineapple cake to macaroni and cheese-and not the kind in the blue box.

Emanuel said the program was a success.

"I'll tell you" she said.  "They are here, they are on time, they're learning amazing skills and they are engaged.  These are kids who would never mix at any other point in school working together as a team."

Chef James, as he is called by his students, said the experience has been great for him too. 

"I'm passionate about food and I love sharing that passion," he said.  "I've mentored students in the past nd find it very rewarding to see students get excited about cooking."

Under the watchful eye of James the students have learned not only how to prepare fresh and healthy food, but to do it on a budget.  They also learned how to work together as a team.

"I divided the students into groups and had each group prepare a dish," he said.  "One person would usually oversee the group so they were learning leadership skills as well."

Grade 12 student Brandon Sampson said he'd participate in the program again it was offered, and Michael Hynes, also a Grade 12, said it was an excellent experience and eating that food they prepared was a bonus. 

Both boys said they're interested in pursuing a career in the culinary industry.  James said he would help them any way he could.


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