Culinary Arts program offers scholarships for high school chefs

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Thirty-three area high school seniors received money to attend higher education through the Careers through Culinary Arts scholarship program. (KABC)

Thirty-three high school seniors had two hours to create tasty chicken entrees and dessert crepes in hopes of carving out a niche as a chef.

"I'm not cooking for the fame or anything. I'm in it because I love it," said Genesis Pineda of San Fernando High School.

Pineda received a scholarship for Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Actually, all the chefs were awarded some scholarship money with the help of Careers through Culinary Arts Program, also known as C-CAP.

"Since our inception we've given over $46 million in scholarships," said C-CAP president Susan Robbins.

Robbins said scholarships top $50 million this year, donated by colleges, corporations and individuals that want these students to succeed.

Founder Richard Grausman started C-CAP 26 years ago, after seeing high school kids were limited in what they were taught and what they could cook.

"I'd like to teach the teachers something more than macaroni and cheese or chocolate-chips cookies," said Grausman.

With C-CAP's help, they do.

"We teach them speed. We teach them cutting skills, basic knife skills -- so those really essential skills for them to work with any chef, so they can make that transition. I actually put a lot of pressure on my students," said Jesse Sanchez, an instructor at Mission College Culinary Arts Department.

And the toughness has become something they seem to enjoy.

"This program has helped me so much with my progress. It's opening so many more doors for me, I can't even count," said Isaiah Rosario of Granada Hills High School.

Isaiah Rosario manages a food truck, but his award has him attending the Academy of Culinary Education.

Along with cooking lessons, C-CAP also assists students with interviews and networking, which helps them climb the career ladder.

"The skills that they're learning today are skills that chefs, all the judges here today, will say, 'Gee, if they can do that, I can put them to work,'" said Grausman.

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