Amidst the steam, cracked egg shells and bits of chocolate, Midlothian High School students created a chocolatey dessert.
For their assignment this past Thursday, the beginner culinary class made chocolate souffles. A dessert, their teacher, Meredith Henderson, said, is certainly difficult to make.
“I’m impressed with how their souffles came out,” she said. “It’s not easy.”
This is just one of the seven culinary classes offered at Midlothian High School as part of the Career and Technology education program. The CTE program is available across the district with courses offered in animal science, business management, cosmetology and 21 others.
The classes are designed to prepare students for their future in any of the 24 fields it offers.
Last month, the Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees approved to add 11 secondary classes from AP courses, dual credit and more CTE courses.
Midlothian High School is the only one that offers the culinary courses, Henderson said. This is her first year teaching at MISD after spending the past seven years in the culinary industry.
Henderson now teaches three classes each at different levels: introduction, culinary and practicum. Another teacher handles four intro level classes.
Weeks leading up to their souffles, the students learned a variety of skills at different levels like how to make a cake or poach an egg.
The classroom looks like an ordinary classroom. Tables sit in rows facing a whiteboard where Henderson’s writing explains what they are doing for the day.
After they get their instructions, the students went around the corner to an open kitchen with three stove-top ovens, industrial-sized freezers and a pantry stocked with everything they’ll need for the day.
Once they separated into their groups, students poured over the recipes in front of them. Some of the things on the recipe were familiar like separate an egg, and others were new like whipping an egg white into soft peaks.
“It’s amazing cause they just want to learn,” she said about her students. “At this age, they aren’t afraid to mess up.”
Throughout the two-blocked class, Henderson looked over the students' shoulders and made adjustments as she saw fit. While she walked around, students approached her with their metal bowls of eggs, asking if they were perfect.
“Not yet,” she would say. “Keep mixing.”
By the end of the class, the students were pulling perfectly puffed souffles out of the oven and topping them with powdered sugar.
“They are better than they think they are,” Henderson added about the students’ abilities.
Depending on the day, Henderson’s grading changes. For days in the kitchen, the students are graded on participation and a pre and post-lab report. On other days, the students are graded on worksheets done in class.
Classes like these are great because they prepare students for the future, Henderson noted. She has a student in her advanced class who has already been accepted to a culinary school and another well on her way.
“They have a leg up above everyone else when they enter the industry,” she said.
Students in her introduction class — full of underclassman — start to look to the future based on the skills they learned in class.
Sophomore Jonathan Gonzalez said he learned things in the class he didn’t know how to do before like make chicken and dumplings.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “It calms me down.
He said having the class first thing in the morning is a great way to start the school day. He doesn’t plan on making a career out of cooking, but he said he is learning valuable skills.
Sophomore Ana Muniz loves cooking and is thinking about making it a career. If she does, she wants to make food into a work of art and showcase her creativity.
Not only is it a career move, but she knows a kitchen better than many of her peers. Her 17-year-old brother, for example, can’t cook an egg while she can make them three ways.
“It’s a fun class,” she said.
Next year, she plans on taking the practicum class and expanding her skills.
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty