Cut above the rest: Grayson culinary program receives certification

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

LOGANVILLE -- Grayson Technical Education Program student Calvin Mijo wants to attend Le Cordon Bleu and aspires to be a sous chef in a fine restaurant.

When he graduates, Mijo can pursue his postsecondary plans knowing his culinary arts classes met national standards.

The culinary arts program recently received industry certification from the American Culinary Federation, allowing students to leave the program with a junior certification from ACF and obtain college credit while in high school, said Chef Jennifer Booker, the program director.

The certification means the program meets national as well as state and county standards, Booker said.

"We're the only school in Gwinnett County to have this certification and the first of only four in Georgia to have it, so it's huge," Booker said.

To obtain the certification, the culinary arts program's curriculum was revamped, and the school hosted site visits to prove the program met the ACF's competencies.

Jody Reeves, Gwinnett County Public Schools' director of technical education, said the certification "adds another dimension to a really good program."

"It provides a lot of opportunities for our students so they can go ahead and experience training in culinary arts before they go to postsecondary institutions," Reeves said. "It gives them an advantage."

Isabelle Jones, assistant principal for Grayson Technical Education Program, said the certification is "phenomenal."

"I think that Chef (Booker) works extremely hard with the kids, and she took them to another level," Jones said.

Student Rachael Burnell said she thinks it's "amazing" the program meets national standards.

"I'm getting a lot out of this program," she said. For example, she said she's learning "sanitation stuff and how to be more safe in the kitchen -- and how to have fun."

Student Donald Ramsamugh said he's glad he can earn college credit for the classes he's taking in high school. He wants to pursue a career in culinary arts, but he's first planning on joining the Marines because he said "it's pretty hard to pay for college."

The culinary arts courses at Grayson Technical Education Program are open to juniors and seniors in Gwinnett County.