Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 11:54 AM
CLEARFIELD -- Brenda Cross's curriculum taught her students how to bake buttermilk rolls, handle kitchen knives and create a restaurant menu.
Her example changed their lives, as she taught them how to become self-sufficient leaders and team builders.
For her efforts, Cross, a Clearfield High School teacher, was recently awarded the ProStart Educator Excellence Award from the Utah Restaurant Association.
ProStart is a two-year culinary program designed for high school students by the National Restaurant Association. Cross has coordinated the program at Clearfield High since its inception 11 years ago.
Graduates of the program must complete 400 hours of work in a food service-related job and pass a certification test at the end of each school year.
Students learn and practice all the skills necessary to operate a restaurant. They are taught purchasing and receiving, safety and sanitation, menu writing and food pricing. They also are taught how to prepare many different types of entrÃ©es, appetizers, and desserts.
ProStart students at Clearfield operate "The Nest," an in-house restaurant that serves faculty and staff.
Completion of the program improves students' ability to gain admission to culinary colleges and qualify for positions at prestigious restaurants.
Many of the program's graduates have attained well-paying jobs at local restaurants such as Corbin's Grille of Layton, Ogden Country Club, and the Grand America in Salt Lake City.
"I love working with the kids," Cross said. "If I had to do it all over again, I would love to go to culinary school. This is the next best thing. I love food. I love cooking."
Sam Baldwin was a struggling high school student before he joined the ProStart program.
"I've always hated school," Baldwin said. "After I got my car, I didn't even want to be there. I didn't want to go to work."
He said that Cross and ProStart changed the course of his life.
"If it weren't for ProStart and Mrs. Cross, I wouldn't have stayed in school and graduated," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for her."
After Baldwin graduated from the program he got a job as a sautÃ© and pantry line cook at Corbin's Grille in Layton.
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