Warren High School kitchen 'the best in the nation'

DOWNEY - At a cost of about $3 million, the much-anticipated culinary arts kitchen located at Warren High School finally opened for business yesterday.Part of the Downey Unified School District's increasingly significant Career Technical Education (CTE) program, which is run in consonance with goals established by the market- and labor-conscious Los Angeles County Regional Occupational Program (ROP), the facility is state-of-the art, with its gleaming stainless steel serving, preparation, and storage equipment put in their proper places presumably only within the last few days. Last week the equipment fabricators' representatives and set-up specialists were still busy bolting down and installing pieces of equipment and otherwise doing a thorough check of every plumbing, heating and cooling, exhaust and ventilation, electrical and sensor contraption required for the facility's safe and efficient operation. There were banquet tables to be arranged just so, and countertops, cabinetry, racks and drawers, and trays, as well as convection ovens installed with their corresponding heat and moisture gauges. Dollies were evident, to move pieces around and about. Phil Davis, ROP-CTE district director, indicated where grease traps were placed strategically inside and outside, where they are hidden underground. John Harris, Downey High School principal and close-up overseer of the kitchen and such other CTE programs operated under the WHS roof such as commercial photography, retail marketing, construction technology, and film & TV production, looked ahead to other possible use configurations of the kitchen: with an area outside large enough for a patio and stage, he suggested that perhaps jazz/musical concerts can be conducted, or construction technology/interior design classes can be conducted in combination, with the culinary arts facility supplying refreshments afterwards. Hearing about this, superintendent Wendy Doty was heard to remark: "This is precisely what we're talking about-putting a school resource to maximum use." In any case, a kitchen for instructional purposes (it is designed to accommodate some 30-34 students at a session) won't be complete without a baker's table, and so the facility will have one, as well as a sink by the main entrance, so a person can wash his/her hands before entering the facility. Its main feature, though, promises to be a demonstration kitchen with a large curving screen monitor, with filming, DVD, etc., capabilities even as it documents guest chefs, say, in action. A very important element of the CTE culinary arts course is it offers the student an opportunity to receive a Serv-Save sanitary certification, which will open doors in the hospitality, tourism, and recreation industry.

********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20