October 17, 2018
By Tamas Mondovics
Johnson County High School culinary arts teacher Craig Cox has every reason to be proud of his students that are filling up his classrooms to the brim.
“I have approximately 100 students per semester,” he said. “I try my best so the students will constantly be learning through hands-on experiences.”
There is no doubt the young cooks love both what they are creating, cooking, eating and serving.Cox, has been an educator for five years, coaches football, and teaches a number of courses (no pun intended) including Culinary1, 2 and 3 at the high school in Mountain City. Culinary 1 at JCHS is an introduction to the culinary arts class where students learn what equipment is used in a commercial kitchen, along with knife skills, safety, and sanitation of the kitchen.
“I also offer Culinary 2 and three as dual classes, so students who qualify to take this get three hours of college credit from Virginia Highlands Community College for each class they take so they could get a total of six hours,” he said.
Cox emphasized that his young cooks learn through books and through hands-on.“With Culinary 2 we work on industry certification,” he said, adding that the students who take this class along with Culinary 3 have the opportunity to get certified by the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program as ServSafe Manager in sanitation.
Currently, in Culinary 2 the class is learning how to make a Food Truck, including the creating a menu, design a truck and come up with a business plan for operating the truck. The students will finish up with a diorama of their truck where they will make it out of boxes.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids to see what it would take actually to handle a real business,” Cox said.
It is noteworthy that JCH culinary class is not shy of supporting the community by getting as involved as possible, including having a hand in the Farmer’s Harvest Dinner for the last three years. The students also cooked meals for the Senior Citizens Prom and helped with many events over the last four years.
“We do catering of all types when available,” Cox said. “This gives the students the opportunity to work in a true restaurant setting.”
Cox is confident that the program will continue to grow while offering its young students the chance to enjoy learning through hands-on experience.