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RHS Culinary Arts Class Offers Service With A Smile
First year Riverbank High School Food/Nutrition and Culinary Arts teacher Emily Cowdrey received some flour from her students this past Valentines Day instead of flowers. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The Culinary Arts students at Riverbank High School have been busy with the crab feed season in full swing and events happening throughout the area, the community service extra credits are being earned. First year Food/Nutrition ROP Culinary Arts teacher Emily Cowdrey assists the students in volunteering at several different events throughout the school year and they earn extra credit for their work at some of the scheduled festivities.

Majoring in Family Consumer Science at Sacramento State, Cowdrey has always had a love for food and has worked in restaurants, catering, and an organic farm for six years. She worked at Golden Valley in Merced for six months where she taught Home Economics which included fashion design, health and family living and child development. This is her first time teaching foods.

“My favorite part about this is the kids,” said Cowdrey, adding that staff has been receptive to her as well. “I like a lot of the teachers here. They are really nice.”

Currently the 12 culinary students participate in serving the seniors at the Senior Brunch hosted by Central Valley Community Resources (CVCR) once a week. They also volunteered at the crab feed and served the guests at the Riverbank Community Center hosted by CVCR.

This past weekend the students served guests at a crab feed held at the Reata in Oakdale that raised funds for the Center for Human Services. They received some training and were treated to pizza for their four hours of community service.

“I really want to get a culinary garden going here,” stated Cowdrey of utilizing available space on the high school campus. “I have been using the greenhouse for stuff for the classroom. I would love to do like a vegetable garden. So we could be using the stuff that we are growing and having the kids see that connection.”

With hopes to teach a farm to fork type of class someday, Cowdrey has been teaching the kids how to make pasta out of zucchini, which was donated by O’Brien’s Market.

The students have also volunteered at a tea party held in Modesto that Chef David Bradford hosted a few weeks ago as well as serving guests at the Citizen of the Year banquet.

A few future activities for the culinary students include a collaboration with the drama department for Shakespeare’s birthday where they will be creating desserts that will be given with the purchase of a ticket. They will also be taking a field trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco, where they will take a tour and visit the culinary garden.

“My favorite part is definitely the students; they are fun and I love the food part,” expressed Cowdrey. “I can talk about food all day long.

“I want to help them. In food service you can do so much stuff and I really want them to get out there and have experiences and do things. Not just being in a classroom.”