Back to School with C-CAP & The Academy of Hospitality & Tourism @ Erasmus Hall High School

By Albert Trotman | Trotfilms (video) – Photographs by Diane Allford

Look At Flatbush paid a visit to the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) at Erasmus Hall’s campus to meet with Principal Dr. Shirley Miller, Assistant Principal Luke Fitzgibbon, Business Coordinator, Theodore Hamilton and Christine Lee, the national advisor with the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).  We were there to witness first-hand the seniors and graduating students who recently completed this unique culinary arts program designed by C-CAP and initiated by the Erasmus Hall Academy of Hospitality and Tourism faculty members.

Working together, students are exposed to the hospitality industry through food.  In addition to hands-on cooking experience, they benefit from career guidance counseling, on the job training, paid internships, and training in cooking techniques from professional chefs.  The benefits of this partnership are being seen already—celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson provided valuable on the job training experiences to AOHT students at his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster.

C-CAP, founded by Richard Grausman in1990, is a program designed to help high school students in underserved communities across the country to think about pursuing a professional career without being limited to academic studies in college. This program gives students an opportunity to compete for college scholarships, which to date has provided students in urban cities such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Virginia, Los Angeles, Arizona, and Washington D.C. to fund their culinary educations while keeping them out of debt.  Since the beginning of the program, over $46M in scholarships’ have been awarded.

Today, Christine Lee has arranged for professional chefs to demonstrate cooking techniques and how to plate meals for fine dining.  Leading the class is Chef Swainson Brown, an alumnus of the C-CAP program, and Chef Dan Studwell, an advocate of the program.  The chefs were there to show the students new techniques for two completely different recipes. The students were shown multiple ways to cut food in order to enhance their knife skills. Taking turns, they were shown contrasting techniques in food handling and preparation.  They were told about the various aspects of working in a professional environment and what would be expected of them in a competitive and sometimes highly stressful working environment.  The students were also taught how price is factored into what a meal might cost a customer, what it means to waste food, and how to repurpose good ingredients that might have been left over from the previous day.

AOHT student, Leslie Ann Pinden, plates up fava bean hummus and pita bread for Freshman Orientation guest.

Later that evening on the day of our visit, Erasmus Hall hosted its Annual Freshman Orientation program for parents and incoming students. The school informed parents about the many programs and activities they have to offer students, as well as give advice to freshmen on how best to utilize the programs and opportunities that have been set up for them during the course of the next four years.  During orientation, the juniors and senior alumni gave tours of the school along with food demonstrations to their guests.  In this video clip, high school junior, Thais Licoria demonstrates some cutting techniques to potential students who want to consider taking cooking classes and joining the C-CAP program.

To learn more, visit them at C-CAPAcademy of Hospitality & Tourism – Erasmus Hall H.S.

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