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RHS Field Trip Helps Develop Culinary Skills
Riverbank High School Culinary class members took a field trip to Chez Panisse in Berkley recently where they observed the workings of a successful restaurant. Photo Contributed

Members of the Riverbank Highs School (RHS) Culinary class left the classroom behind this past week as they embarked on a journey to gain knowledge and understanding of a lucrative restaurant business in Berkeley. Culinary instructor Emily Cowdrey organized a field trip on Monday, Jan. 29 for her class to experience Chez Panisse, Edible School Yard and the Cheese Board.

“The students got an in depth tour of the restaurant and met some of the chefs and saw the day-to-day operations of a successful restaurant,” said Cowdrey. “Then we walked over to the Edible School Yard, which the founder of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters, started. They toured the school yard and the teaching kitchen as well.”

The final destination for the class was lunch at the Cheese Board where they also got to partake in some cheese tasting at the cheese shop. Chez Panisse offers California cuisine and has an upstairs café and restaurant downstairs. They use organic locally grown in-season ingredients to craft their selections. The restaurant café also offers internships to students.

“They learned about the restaurant and the history and look of kitchen life and they learned about the Edible School Yard,” added Cowdrey. “They had a great time. Many of them had never been to Berkeley and some were very interested in a chance to intern at Chez Panisse.”

Waters started the Edible School Yard in 1995 in partnership with the principal at a public middle school in Berkeley with the idea to directly involve students. The kitchen classroom also teaches educators how to grow sustainable food.

The Cheese Board is a worker-owned collective in operation since 1971. The two owners sold the business to their employees and created a worker owned business. They are a cheese store and bakery that has grown throughout the years. They offer a variety of different cheeses, freshly baked breads and pastries. They also have a pizzeria a few doors down.

“I really liked when they touched on turning the kitchen waste into compost,” expressed Cowdrey. “It was affirming to the students because we apply the same practices in our kitchen. All in all it was a successful trip.”