Clovis Unified’s Regional Occupational Program endeavors to train students to be successful in their future careers. Hands-on instruction and opportunities to become involved in the wider community give students exposure to the various opportunities available to professionals in their fields.
Students from Chef William Luke’s culinary arts classes had the opportunity to do just that in March, when they participated in Golden Living Centers’ second annual soup making competition. They made an impressive showing, outcooking 12 professionals to take home the top awards.
Bethany Black, now a senior at Clovis East, was named Grand Soup Master for her Green Curry Soup. Lauren Regan, from Clovis West, placed first.
DeeAnn Walters, Golden Living Center’s executive director, presented the $350 prize money to Luke in front of one of his two classes last Wednesday. The money will be used to purchase kitchen equipment for the program and help cover expenses on field trips to various culinary institutions, he said.
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Walters said the competition is “an opportunity to highlight the great food we prepare for our patients on a daily basis.”
Luke, a former caterer and chef, said he encourages his students to build their resumes by getting involved in community events.
“All these things are arrows in your quiver,” he told his class.
Walters said the competition is a good opportunity for students to see another career path — beyond restaurant work — available to professional chefs.
“We need skilled people so they can make these great meals for our patients,” she said.
But Luke wants to do more than prepare his students for their careers.
“I try to instill a passion in them,” he said. “You have to have a passion for what you do and be the best that you can be. You can’t do anything if you don’t have passion.”
The reigning Grand Soup Master has a passion that goes beyond cooking. Although a career as a professional chef would “be nice,” said Black, she hopes to go to college to study her other passion: opera.