School Report - Earning State Titles in Kitchen
"We try to let the students have a lot of opportunities to actually work," said instructor Brook Harlan.
Student Katie Frink said, "I think they treat it more like it's supposed to be, more like a workplace."
Although she's still in high school, that's something Frink likes about the program.
"I just love it over here," she said. "I'd much rather be over here than anywhere else."
Harlan added, "That hard work and determination is really what it takes to help her succeed."
Frink won the state title for the second time this year, sending her to nationals for the second straight summer, where she will compete in Kansas City in June.
"Every single day is really a prep[aration] for the state and national competition," Harlan said.
Frink won't know what she has to do until the contest starts.
"It's numerous culinary knowledge put to the test," Harlan explained. "They have you work in the kitchen. It's a very, very long and rigorous test."
But Frink and her instructors are confident she's prepared.
"I think she can definitely come out on top," Harlan said, "and I'm really looking for her to do well."
And that preparation will go further than national competition.
"They do get some real life experience," Harlan added, "and I think that's going to help going into the industry."
In addition to the Culinary Arts restaurant, students run a catering business and set up a school buffet every week for up to 180 people.
"I think that is really really cool that I get to do that here," Frink said.
And Harlan loves to see that enthusiasm.
"It really makes my job worthwhile, seeing students like that come in and work so hard and then succeed and go places they want to go," she said.
But, to Frink, it's not hard to work hard in this classroom.
"I love all of it, all of it," she said.
And Frink says eating good food isn't bad either.
Columbia's Career Center runs the Culinary Arts program for students throughout the area.