High School Students In A High End Kitchen

Apr 12, 2017


Do you love the kitchen? Do you love it enough earn your living there?

High School students at in the culinary arts track at the Hutchings College and Career Academy in Macon get to answer both of those questions at the school’s Compass Rose Cafe.


The program had a ribbon cutting recently, so they had a special lunch crowd, too. It was all Bibb County School District officials, including the superintendent. On the menu it was grilled shrimp and pork belly confit. You may know that last one as bacon. As to how it would look on the plate, Chef Stuart Hardy said that was still up in the air even as diners took their seats.


“Yeah, we're Kind of playing around with different plating ideas for today,” Hardy said.  




Pork belly confit, as prepared by culinary students at the Hutchings College and Career Academy in Macon.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

Hardy was an executive chef for six years before heading up the Hutchings culinary program. That was eight months ago. He said he wants to give students a real look at the hustle of a pro kitchen. This is art, too. Hence the back and forth on how to plate the food.


“So each week we have a new menu new four course menu,” he said. “That's the way we teach kids new cooking methods rather than being in a restaurant doing the same menu over and over and over again. Every single week it's something new.”

Of course, some kids might not stick with this.


“Today they're going to walk into me saying ‘Here’s what we're making. Go.’,” Hardy said.

Keeping up with the pace is hard work. Still, Hardy said you’re going to have feed yourself eventually.


“You might as well know what you're doing when you get in the kitchen,” he said.



The salad course headed for the dining room of the Compass Rose Cafe'.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

Azaria Oliver was here until 9 p.m. last night finishing a catering gig. This is no fair-weather thing for her.


“Yes this is my thing. I am sticking to this,” she said.


She already has scholarship offers to post-secondary culinary programs.


“I think I got like two,” she said.


Though she’s not too worried about it right now.


“I know about them. My mom reads them and checks them over,” she said.

Plus, the said she really likes the uniform. She said she will definitely be back for her junior and senior years.   

Meanwhile, the dining room is calm by comparison. John Roberts, who works in the district’s special education program, is finishing his second course. How did he like it?

“It’s simply amazing,” he said. “Excellent.”


The good news was he had two courses left.


The shrimp course, devoured.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB