At Elk River High School the Culinary Arts courses are at full-capacity. The Hallway Café, which doubles as Monique Sabby’s classroom during first semester, provides a hand-on, technical learning experience for her students. The Hallway Café houses a full commercial kitchen which is licensed and inspected by the Minnesota Department of Health. This is where students prepare menu items and perfect their craft. Students in ProStart I & II courses design the menu, pricing, and management plan before actually operating the café over the lunch hour during second semester. The preliminary work also includes food safety and sanitation, food and nutrition education, and food preparation lessons to ensure students are prepared for all aspects of the restaurant business.
Sabby, a University of Minnesota graduate with a Masters in Family Education, has been teaching for 12 years. When asked about her motivation for running the culinary program, Sabby said,
It is the personal growth and increased confidence of students that is the biggest reward for me.
For students, the rewards come in the form of scholarships from prestigious culinary schools across the U.S. and job skills they can use for a lifetime. Students can also earn ProStart Level I & II Certificates and college credit through Hennepin Technical College, Normandale College, or St Cloud Technical College .
For those students who want to excel even more in the program, there is a ProStart Culinary Team and ProStart Management Team that meet outside of school hours and competes in state and national competitions through the National Restaurant Association. Under Sabby’s tutelage, and mentored by professional chefs, the students have won the state competition 6 out of the past 8 years. Students are eligible to compete for two years in ProStart programs in culinary techniques and/or management skills.
Elk River High School senior Meaghan Stoutenburg is the captain of the 2015-2016 ProStart Management Team and assists Sabby during an independent study period with project details beyond those included in culinary classes.
From Exploring Foods and Culinary I & II to the professional experiences of ProStart, students master the skills necessary for life and leadership. This award-winning Culinary Arts Program at Elk River High School is focused on the food service industry to ensure students gain the knowledge and experience they will need for college and careers in the future.