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Manners Meals make learning fun and tasty

Culinary students serve manners meal. In a collaboration between Culinary, Foods I and Principles of Business classes, students are learning real world skills for dining and serving. For several days in February Chef Elaine Templeton’s Culinary classes planned, prepared and served meals to CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes who were practicing proper etiquette and manners.

CTE Teacher Kenisia Taylor described the event and what her students gained from it.

“For the Principles of Business and Finance curriculum, we teach students proper ways to interact in various business settings including dining settings. My students were in for a wonderful surprise as Chef Templeton's Culinary class created a restaurant atmosphere and experience from the call-ahead reservations to the wait staff with menus where students could choose between white and dark meat chicken with waffles and had delicious options of toppings as well as a drink options!  The tables were already set with proper linen and silverware and decor. Orders were taken and food was delivered with such precision and did I mention that we'd also arranged for students to receive a bill where they could determine the appropriate service gratuity and provide signatures. It was a tremendous learning opportunity for both the Culinary and Principles of Business classes!  

Several of Taylor’s students commented on what they learned from the meal.

Sophomore Jackson Ray commented, “The culinary students showed everyone respect and served everyone very well. I enjoyed practicing dining etiquette skills such as placing the napkin in my lap once I'm seated.”

Senior Sean Jones stated, “ I enjoyed the chicken and waffles entree and it was good that there was a menu where we could choose extra topping choices and drinks.”

Senior Saleem Merukeb added, “I learned proper manners and how to hold proper conversation while dining.”

Freshman Tristan Stitt said, “The Culinary students’ service was performed properly and they took good care of us. I was able to practice European-style of dining and holding conversations with fellow classmates.” 

Culinary students prepare manners meals. Chef Templeton shared how her classes performed during the meals and what skills they practiced. “The culinary students needed an opportunity to serve in a restaurant setting. They needed to practice setting the table for service, preparing the food and serving it. We call it front and back-of-the-house. In the past, we have held these events in Mrs. Hasty’s room all on one day, but this year the business classes asked to join in. So we set up the café in the upper E atrium. We went further in our mock restaurant by having the students call for a reservation. They followed a script and this helped all classes involved. The culinary students got a chance to practice taking the reservation and the CTE students got a chance to make one. All students practiced proper phone etiquette. Because of the number of students we were serving (46 to 54 in each meal), we decided to stretch it out over three days. During the meal, the culinary students took orders and made out tickets for the kitchen to fill. Then they filled out and totaled the amounts. They gave the tickets to the guests and the guests added their chosen percentage of gratuity.

Foods I teacher Ana Hasty added, “Chef & I have been doing Manners Meals for years now. This was the first time the business classes joined us. This year I taught my classes skills used at business meals. My students wore name tags, introduced themselves, shook hands, used proper tableware, had appropriate conversation, ate using either the American or Continental style, had napkins on laps, and ordered, communicating respectfully with wait staff, paid the bill, and calculated the tip. To prepare my students, I also had the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Director of the Union County Education Foundation come and speak to my students. For extra credit, they could dress in business casual attire. I believe my students gained as close to real world experience without leaving school as they can from this, that will allow for them to transfer these skills and use them in real life!”

CTE Principles of Business teacher Barbara Ellis discussed her classes' reaction and experience at their manners meals. “My students were so excited to participate! It was fun watching their faces when the food was served and the presentation was beautiful! For some students this was their only opportunity to actually sit at a table with people, eat and be served, engage in table conversation, and have to use utensils formally. Students were also responsible for calculating the tip.”

When asked about having manners meals in the future, Templeton responded, "I definitely think we will be doing this event again in future semesters!"