PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay High School was one of the hardest-hit schools in Hurricane Michael.
The storm damaged their culinary classroom greatly, forcing the classes to be moved to portables. Since then, the classes have been working with only microwaves and refrigerators.
Now, the students are getting a change of scenery through a partnership with Gulf Coast State College.
The high school students visit the campus every two weeks, utilizing the state of the art kitchen inside the Advanced Technology Center.
“We’re in a real kitchen and there are other teachers here that are helping the college students that are also helping us so it’s cool to see them and how they teach them and they’re teaching us the same way,” said Bay High senior, Kaylee Decker.
Chef Greg Bailie is Bay High’s Culinary Director and says his students learn more than just how to cook a good meal.
“They learn knife skills, they learn the five mother sauces, they learn terminology and how everything flows with food costs and how to build a menu and menu design and concept,” Bailie said.
He says the class opens up more doors for the future as well.
“It gives them an edge to be able to go in and feel comfortable on what they’re doing and it gives that employer the ability to hire someone that is ServSafe Certified. That’s one of the certifications they have to have. My students here now, they have their certification and that’s a five-year certification, it’s a national certification,” Bailie said.
The teens are working in the same environment and at the same time as the college students at Gulf Coast, and they say this experience gives them confidence.
“It’s really cool to be in that college atmosphere and being treated like a kid. They’re acting like we’re one of them,” said Bay High senior, Yvonne Lewis.
Gulf Coast State College official says they hope this partnership will inspire the younger students to continue learning the profession.
“Being able to help and participate in the community for these young culinary students to be here at the same time that our students are here for them to see where they can be if they decide to continue their connection,” said GCSC Culinary and Hospitality Coordinator Stephen Withall.
Withall says they hope to partner with more schools in the future.