Creamy cheese grits, a hash brown casserole oozing with cheese, 2-inch-high biscuits with fresh honey on the side, cakes, pies and more.
It wasn't Sunday brunch at the Waverly Hotel, but a Wednesday-morning buffet at Harlem High School. Barbara Howard's ProStart students had whipped up a feast, and school dignitaries were the lucky guests. The banquet preceded the Red Ribbon Week event that morning.
Dressed in a crisp white cook's jacket, puffy hat and apron, Staralisha Boyd opened the oven to check the progress of her biscuits, proud of the fact that hers were higher than classmate Patricia Whitehead's.
''I just don't press the dough so flat," said Staralisha, who said she hopes to be a caterer.
For ProStart students, the buffet was an opportunity to show what they know. Harlem and Evans High are the only schools in the area that offer the ProStart Foodservice School-to-Career program, developed by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association. Harlem began its program last year.
''I am preparing a sausage casserole, and we're making our own centerpieces and preparing some recipes to get ready for tomorrow," Rachael Anderson said Tuesday afternoon, the day before the banquet.
The 16-year-old Harlem High School junior said she would like to be a chef.
''It's kind of stressful because they are going to be tasting what we cook. Our food is how they are going to judge us," she said.
The event was a group effort between Harlem High's ProStart class, Advanced Food students and Introduction to Foods students. The students in the introduction class made hors d' oeuvres called ''Bacon and Eggs" - two pretzel sticks with a round mound of white chocolate in the middle and a yellow M&M on top, which looks like bacon and eggs on a plate.
Howard said the students pored through menus to plan the event until they ultimately had the right combination.
Fall into Autumn was the theme selected for the meal. The room was decorated with cornucopias made of bread and filled with fall flowers. The tables were scattered with small gourds and fresh greenery. The fashion-design class made the tablecloths and napkins.
The event also provided an opportunity for students to review some lessons they had learned in class. They were required to regularly test the temperature of the foods in the chaffing dishes.
''They are checking to make sure that foods are maintained at the right temperatures, which is part of the food-safety procedures they have to know," Howard said.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Rickerson, 17, a junior Pro-Start and Advanced Food student, was busy in the kitchen making zesty cheddar asparagus quiche.
''It's hectic around here, but I know we can do it," she said.
The menu included:
Holiday baked fruit
Toasted cream cheese apple pockets
Hash brown casserole
Sausage breakfast casserole
Baked cheese grits
Red velvet cake
Zesty cheddar asparagus quiche
Biscuits with fresh honey and jam
Water, coffee and orange and apple juice.
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