If you’re a high school student with a passion for cooking or baking, there’s no need to wait until graduation to kickstart your culinary career. Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has sizzled up a delectable array of opportunities for aspiring chefs and food enthusiasts to embark on a culinary journey that can lead to careers in the hospitality and tourism industries.
M-DCPS takes pride in offering a wide range of Culinary Arts Programs through its Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings at 31 high schools, including five magnet schools dedicated to the culinary arts. These programs bridge the gap between education and the workforce, equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in both college and careers. By providing a solid foundation in core academics and job-specific culinary skills, M-DCPS paves the way for students to explore exciting careers as chefs, restaurant managers, or professionals in event sales and hospitality management. M-DCPS is the best choice for preparing students to savor the thrill of challenging careers right in high school.
Katherine Gonzalez, a dedicated Culinary Academy Leader at Hialeah Senior High School for over 28 years, sheds light on the CTE program. “The purpose of the program is to prepare students for employment or advanced training in the food service and hospitality industry,” she explains. “They work towards industry certification, such as ServStaff, ServSafe, and ProStart certifications. They gain experience in a wide variety of fields, from hospitality to baking and pastry, and from culinary to management, all within the safety of my classroom.”
The program's comprehensive curriculum covers all aspects of food preparation, presentation, and service. It also hones students' leadership and communication skills, employability skills, and instills safe and efficient work practices. In this dynamic learning environment, students delve into nutrition,
cooking techniques, seasonings and flavorings, culinary laws, safety and sanitation principles, and the myriad career opportunities in the food service industry.
Gonzalez proudly highlights the program’s popularity and reputation throughout the state of Florida. “We are members of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, and two years ago we were awarded a $50,000 Culinary Kitchen Grant.” She further shares exciting news about the expansion of the culinary lab into a commercial section, along with plans to bring in a chef instructor to accommodate the program's growth.
Studying culinary arts at M-DCPS isn't just about mastering the art of cooking; it's about broadening horizons in countless ways. While it certainly paves the way for future chefs, it also fosters a profound appreciation for food as culture, art, and wellness. The culinary artists of tomorrow are poised to share these insights with their future customers.
The Culinary Academy at Hialeah Senior High School stands out as a hub for students seeking to interact with experienced alumni, engage in captivating presentations, learn new culinary techniques, and explore diverse culinary fields. Many graduates from the program opt to continue working in the food industry, with a significant number achieving remarkable success.
"We have amazing alumni!" exclaims Gonzalez. "Our graduates excel in the hotel and hospitality industry, run local bakeries, and even become celebrated food bloggers."
Notably, Chef Michael Hernandez, an illustrious alumnus, recently returned to Miami after earning a Michelin star in Washington, D.C., and currently serves as the Executive Chef at Boulud Sud in the JW Marriot Marquis.
With Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Culinary Arts Programs, your culinary dreams are not just possible; they're sizzling hot and ready to be served!