When cruising down North Avenue it's kind of hard to miss the sign for D51's Career Center near 29 1/2 Rd. The Career Center has been a staple in this community for over 30 years. But what is the Center all about? D51's Career Center is an educational campus serving about 400 students from all five district high schools in the valley. Students can sign up for one of seven hands-on courses: Horticulture, Small Engines, Construction, Small Animals, Healthcare Occupations, Early Childhood Development, and of course, Culinary Arts.
So where does the Fresh Side Cafe fit in? Each year culinary students open the Fresh Side Cafe to the public, which allows them first-hand experience in taking orders, serving tables, short-order cooking and restaurant management. The cafe opened for the school year on September 19th and will serve lunch Tuesday through Friday, on most days throughout the school year.
The Career Center's culinary program teaches the students everything they need to know to one day work in food service. Because of this, students who decide to further their education after high school at places such as CMU Tech (formerly WCCC) will have a head-start on their Culinary Arts degree. The Career Center's Culinary Arts program is also the only culinary program in the state on the secondary level that is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. This is a huge accomplishment and allows students to earn a Fundamental Culinary Certificate.
The Fresh Side Cafe students are grateful for your kindness and patience as you sit down to dine. This is the first time many of them have experienced taking orders, serving, cooking and managing. The cafe is typically open for lunch but they recommend calling ahead to check. Since this cafe is operated by students, there are times when the cafe needs to close for testing and other school functions. These culinary students are also happy to help with your catering needs. Catering events are a great way for students to further their education and sharpen their skills.
The goal of the culinary program is not only to teach the youth how to work in the food industry but to also teach them the life skills they will one day need to cook for themselves. Food is a necessity and it is nice that the students can leave the program knowing how to make a vast array of foods. The Career Center also helps students learn how to prepare a resume and they conduct mock interviews to prepare the students for life after high school. Because of these skills, 70% of last year's culinary students are now employed in the food industry, which is incredible considering most of these students are still in high school.
To learn more or donate to these educational programs, contact the D51 Career Center at (970) 254-6000.
Burgers, Panini and Clubs, oh my! That's just a taste of the offerings at Fresh Side Cafe. Alongside those sandwich favorites is an array of salads and fresh made-from-scratch soups and desserts!