Celebrity chefs cook alongside South LA students during competition ahead of new pilot program

Students at Susan Miller Dorsey High School will have a chance to be a part of a school career exploration program this year.

Jaysha Patel Image
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Students at Susan Miller Dorsey High School will have a chance to be a part of a school career exploration pilot program this year

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Students at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles on Monday found out what it is like to cook next to celebrity chefs.

Chefs from the television show "Top Chef" helped students compete against one another. They were trying to get people excited about a pilot program coming this school year.

"As part of the program, kids will interact with dieticians, nutritionists, chefs that have prepared menus for oncology patients. At the same time, they'll be offered internships with Common Threads," said Linda Novick O'Keefe, founder of Common Threads.

The nonprofit organization Common Threads organized the event at Dorsey High.

They have been working with the Los Angeles Unified School District for the past 15 years, providing cooking and education programs for elementary and middle schools.

Now, they are launching their very first high school career exploration pilot program at Dorsey High.

During the competition Monday, the students cooked side by side with celebrity chefs.

"You know I did 'Top Chef' season 4, season 8. All the chefs out there, Govind Armstrong, Stephanie Izard, Shirley Chung, Elizabeth Falkner are all 'Top Chef' alums," said Antonia Lofaso, an executive chef.

Senior Guadalupe Santiago Hernandez took home first place in the competition.

"I thought I would be third, second. I never thought I'd be first. Yeah, I was kind of surprised," Santiago Hernandez said.

The new pilot program means so much more than learning new dishes.

"Historically, neighborhoods around Dorsey High School have been known as food deserts where we haven't had access to healthy food, and so our families have had to struggle to make ends meet and to find ways to put food on the table. Right now we're teaching young people how to cook affordably and healthy and I think that's going to feed the whole community," said state Assemblyman Isaac Bryan.

For the school's culinary program, the program means access to things they did not have before.

"Common Threads is bringing forth their resources financially and with their experienced chefs and their love for the community to have healthier foods," said Sonja Mason-Briscoe, culinary arts instructor at Downey High.

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