Ten students from San Marcos High School will learn to cook like pros with guidance from Jolly Brothers Caterers chef Ian Trenwith. In his role as instructor for Healthy Options for Teens (H.O.T.), he offers hands-on cooking classes that go beyond technique.

Trenwith advises the students on how to cook authentic recipes, and teaches them as well about local ingredients and the origins of the food. Students in the 17-week culinary arts program learn how to plan menus. They discover how their personal food decisions may affect their health and well-being. And they get a well-rounded perspective on the many different aspects of the food industry.

“It feels good to be giving back,” said Trenwith, who has been in the food industry for 32 years. “It is so great to see the students learning something new everyday.” Teens learn valuable nutrition information, kitchen safety, knife-cutting skills, table settings, cake decorating, catering methods, and much more. Each student is given a binder containing the curriculum for the course, filled with lessons that will help them develop abilities that they can continue to use way beyond the classroom.

Students will take field trips to Santa Barbara restaurants to learn from other professionals in the cooking world, and visit Santa Barbara City College to check out the school’s Culinary Arts Program. These aspiring chefs even have the chance to meet representatives from various cruise lines offering a chance to travel should they choose to join the food industry. Another special guest will teach the eager students how to make ice sculptures. Speakers who work for food distribution companies such as Jordano’s will come talk to the kids about the possibilities of working for their businesses.

Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation is the official host of this program, whose participants convene for two hours each Wednesday evening at the Westside Community Center. Recreation specialist Anita Ho said, “It is not just about becoming a chef, but more about opening doors and getting students interested in different career opportunities.” She explained that there are “a lot of jobs in the food industry.”

As of last week, the young chefs-to-be were busy honing their skills to work on the menu they are preparing for a VIP luncheon they will be catering on April 1. The luncheon attendees will include their families and donors who have supported the program, among them the Santa Barbara Foundation, and Patricia Bragg, head of Bragg Health Products and Books. The students meet Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. in the newly renovated kitchen at the Westside Community Center.

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