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Posted: November 14, 2022

Rio Grande Culinary Arts Gets Cooking for the Holidays

Rio Grande is among 10 APS high schools that have culinary arts programs.

Albuquerque's Rio Grande High School offers a unique culinary arts program. With the holiday season in mind, Culinary Arts Program Direct Janet Delgado and the talented kids she teaches are cooking up some delicious treats–and developing important life skills while learning about each other's heritages in the process.

In this very special culinary arts program, students spend two lab days cooking and one classroom day learning about food in the news, the restaurant industry, and other food-related topics. They are given writing assignments about their readings and encouraged to discuss the impacts of such subjects as the Smith's-Albertsons merger on the larger economy, for instance.

Ten APS high schools have culinary arts programs like Rio Grande's: Atrisco Heritage, Albuquerque High, Cibola, Eldorado, Highland, Manzano, Rio Grande, Sandia, and Valley. And some of the programs provide catering services to the public. Check with the school for more information. 

"I think we have a really great learning environment for [the students]," said Delgado. "My job is to prepare them for the industry or to give them life skills for whatever they pursue in the future. Food is a really wonderful platform to learn about different cultures, experience different heritages, and also be clear about your cultural identity and what is important to you. Food is a great unifier."

Not only does the culinary arts program prepare students for a wide variety of career paths after school, but it also helps bolster their learning opportunities in other fields. Multiple classes correlate to each student's experience levels in the kitchen and how many years they've been taking the course, just like in a traditional culinary arts program.

"Within our school, it gives a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with other curriculums and other content areas. So, environmental sciences, history, math, English language arts," says Delgado. "Through culinary arts in this program, we're able to support core content classes in the school. Plus, there are numerous career opportunities related to this industry, so it's a wonderful opportunity to be able to teach."

The students also appreciate the opportunity to build concrete life skills while sharing their own family recipes and food histories. They also learn valuable food prep skills like sanitation standards, teamwork, order of operations in the kitchen, and food safety.

"Working with other people and keeping my station clean are some of the best things I've learned in this program," says senior Filiberto Sanchez-Reyes. "Honestly, I don't see myself working in the food industry, but the class has definitely helped me." 

Some students come to the program with a strong family connection to the food industry, while others enrolled based on their own interests in food.

"My grandparents own a bakery," said one student. "Hector's Bakery. They've owned it for over 120 years. I work there on the weekends, and I help out. I like baking, myself."

Because food is such an important part of any holiday celebration, the students in Rio Grande High School's culinary arts program are excited to share their family recipes with the wider community through programs like the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway that the program organizes.

Needless to say, the holidays will surely be tasty this year, thanks to all the hard work of the students involved in Rio Grande High School's Culinary Arts program.

For more information on Rio Grande's Culinary Arts program, please visit the Rio Grande High School website.