South Florida

Education on 6: Lake Stevens Middle School

They can sell the sizzle, but there’s a whole lot of steak, too, in the Lake Stevens Middle School culinary arts program. Yes, it’s a middle school, one of a handful in all of South Florida to offer culinary arts as an elective.

Last school year, the principal saw an old, unused home economics room and envisioned new possibilities.

“Three major ingredients came together,” said principal Jorge Bulnes. “A dynamic teacher, an old home-ec room which we reimagined into a fully functional kitchen, as well as invested and amazing children.”

It’s not just cooking. The students are learning skills and absorbing knowledge that can help them in high school, college, and beyond.

“And it’s even more unique to have a middle school culinary arts program that incorporates the interior design, decorating, the creativity that our children have so we’re a one-stop shop for the creatives,” said Angel Myers, the culinary arts teacher.

The “creatives” are designing menus for their big, upcoming dinner event on May 15th, the Spartan Bistro, in which they transform the library into a fancy restaurant. (It’s open to the public, contact the school for details.) Another group of students is creating the centerpieces for the event.

“When you think of culinary, you think of cooking, not really interior decorating,” said Ramona Smith, an eighth-grader in the class who says she’s better in arts and crafts than preparing food.

"Our kids understand what a balanced diet is, what it looks like, how to make it and then go home, share it with their siblings, with their families, and hence it impacts the community,” Bulnes said.

Proving the principal’s point, eighth-grader Jose Machado said, “I’m actually learning more recipes, when it comes to home, and I’m actually able to start cooking for my family.”

Cooking, of course, is still the core of any culinary program, and even at this age, kids are thinking, this could be a career.

Daniel Smith told us he wants to be a chef when he grows up, “Because I like cooking, it’s fun, and I love to eat.”

Can’t beat that rationale. Might as well pursue your passion.

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