The energy in the dining area at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines was undeniable as Central Campus culinary students in crisp, white uniforms moved quickly through the room.

“Into the kitchen… into the kitchen…” repeated Chef Monica Wilson Cross as students carried in the items they would need to prepare and serve a meal during their first in-person catering event during the 2021-22 school year.

“The students are excited to be back,” Cross said. “I think you can see it in their faces today.”

Roosevelt junior and second-year culinary student Pablo Alonso is grateful to be cooking for the public again.

“It feels real comfortable,” Alonso said. “We want everyone to do a good job today.”

The Des Moines Women’s Club is also back in-person for the first luncheon in a long time, a three-course meal prepared by students from club cookbooks created for fundraisers dating back into the 1800s.

“It’s a taste of the past prepared by chefs of the future,” said club president Christine Foss, who reached out to Central Campus over the summer to see if culinary students would be interested in catering the 50th Anniversary event.

“I love telling people that we are using students in the public school system to come and participate and help us,” she said.

The menu included a molded cranberry salad, Quiche Lorraine and a dessert called “Five Threes” involving bananas, juice of oranges and lemons, sugar and heavy cream, blackberries, strawberries, and fresh vanilla. Rolls and cinnamon butter were also on every table.

For Jada Inthanbounh, a third-year culinary student and North High School senior, the luncheon is one more experience bridging her childhood love with an anticipated long and successful culinary career.

“I’m the youngest in my family and I’ve always loved to bake,” she said. “I was just accepted into my top school, Johnson and Whales University in Providence, Rhode Island.”

Inthanbounh helped oversee second-year students as the event unfolded. They were polite, professional, and detailed in their work. As the meal concluded, the reviews rolled in.

“I’ve had a great response from my club guests,” said Foss. “The garnishes and presentation of food was splendid! It was just a wonderful experience having them come to our facility and practice what they are learning to do.”

The Central Campus culinary program allows Culinary Arts students to explore opportunities for employment in the hospitality and food service industry through the operation of the student-run Central Campus Café and catering events. Students receive their ProStart certification from the National Restaurant Association and compete in local and national competitions. This program also gives students the opportunity to earn college credit. Click here to learn more about the Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management program at Central Campus.

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