Thursday lunchtime at Sanhedrin High School smells and tastes even better, thanks to the new Spring Vegetarian Cooking Cuisine class.
The class is dual-enrollment, meaning students earn high school and college credits. It is taught by Mendocino College Culinary Arts Management Instructor Nicholas Petti.
One morning the students prepared new potatoes in salt and vinegar, new potatoes and green beans, aloo gobi and vegetable samosas, all in the space of a few hours – some students chopping vegetables, others stirring food on the stove and rolling dough filling samosas.
Petti navigates the kitchen with ease, teaching the group of teens to cook multiple dishes at once while simultaneously offering sound life advice.
The course was made possible by a $10,000 Vocational Technical Education (CTE) grant from Mendocino Community College. Sanhedrin director Marian Lohne said the grant was received in the form of supplies such as cooking utensils, pots, pans and cutting boards. She explained that the college provided “everything we needed to move the class forward, including the teacher.”
As part of the course, students receive an online food handling certificate as well as college and high school credits. Quizzes and recipes for the class are also online
Student David Creamer said of the class, “It’s fun, I like it.” Petti said class was going well. He said: “I really like these guys. They are doing really well.
Petti discussed the menu he chooses for the class. He said, “I try to do things that maybe aren’t as well known, or different uses of familiar vegetables. So we broaden our horizons. At the end of each lesson, students sample their culinary creations, some more popular than others, and take home leftovers when available.
Student Amber Lollar said her favorite dish they made was baked asparagus. Sanhedrin teacher Yuliya Ritchley said that another week the class cooked everything from artichokes.
Ritchley said: “It’s the first time we’ve done the class here; we’ve been working on it for probably five years. It took us some time to set it up. The pandemic further delayed the formation of the class.
Space in the classroom is limited due to room capacity, otherwise Petti predicted more students would be enrolled. Lohne explained that the class is open to the public to register; that semester, it turned out to be filling up with students, including one from Willits High School.
Students enrolled in the course not only for the necessary CTE credits, but also to learn life skills as they move toward independence after high school. Creamer, 16, said: “I kind of need to know how to cook; if I can’t cook, I won’t survive.
In the fall, the course will again be offered with seasonal vegetables. The course is also offered at the college in the evening.