March 27 was Pasta Night at Dr. F. Walter Robinson School on Kennedy Boulevard.
While more than 400 people to help raise funds for the school’s Parent Teacher Conference, the event was also an opportunity for the community to come together in other ways – as part of a classroom lesson on culinary arts, as well as an example of a school-business partnership though a sponsorship of Pamrapo Bank.
Students from Bayonne High School’s Culinary Academy program cooked various dishes for the event, earning extracurricular credits for the endeavor as well as the gratitude of the public, who had come to share in the delights.
Joe Barbero, the teacher who heads the program, said the five year old high school program is designed to help students interested in culinary arts to learn the basics for careers in the food industry.
Students who take part in events such as the Pasta Night are volunteers who are honing their skills through the activities.
“We actually have two classes, pre-culinary and culinary,” he said.
Each student is designated a certain job. Some make the sauces, some make pasta dishes. The students also made some of the desserts, such as the Irish soda bread.
“They make everything they serve from meatballs to salad,” Barbero said.
Although events like Pasta Night are the most public, the students of the culinary class are often involved in school events, from hosting luncheons for the staff of Bayonne High School or paying visits to the district’s elementary schools to prepare treats – often tied to seasonal events and lessons such as the traditions associated with Thanksgiving.
Students in the program frequently see guest lecturers about kitchen and fire safety, as well as careers in the industry. Some students even attend culinary arts programs at the Hudson County Community College.
Barbero said the class started with the basics such as nutrition and safety, and then evolves into preparation of dishes.
For the Robinson School event, the class cooked more than 30 pounds of pasta.
The class caters various city and school district events. Students are asked to do four events a year for the course, but most do six or seven.
Principal Kevin Moran said Pasta Night is an annual event at the school, although this year the event was held in the newly constructed addition to the school. Pamrapo Bank picks up the cost for the operation as part of the community partnership.
“We’ve doing this for about five years, although this is the first time in the new building,” he said.
Sarah Cruz, a junior at Bayonne High School, is new to the program this year, but has been involved with numerous events that include Back to School Night and student council events, and has made cookies, cupcakes and pasta sauce in the class. On this night, she served salad she had made for this event.
“This was larger than most events,” she said. “This required a lot more preparation. They said we had to make food for more than 300 people.”
Eddy Fink, a senior at the high school who made a dish of stuffed ziti for the event, said he took the program because he hoped to become a chef some day.
On April 18, the class, along with the high school’s Culinary Club and the International Club, will hold another culinary event in Bayonne High School that will feature ethnic foods from various cultures. This will be a combined fundraiser for the clubs and will cost $10 for adults and $8 for students. The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.