A poll conducted two years ago revealed the CHS student body was heavily in favor of the new courses.
Renny Whittenbarger, Career and Technological Education supervisor, formed an advisory committee of local culinary managers to help create the program.
The final decision was who would turn the scrambled-egg-making students into cooks on the rise.
Whittenbarger searched for several months before finding the man for the job.
Chef Clyde Rush is bringing more than 30 years of experience to the recently added courses.
“I started pursuing cooking when I was 9,” Rush remembered. “I was staying with my grandfather while my mother and grandmother went out of town.”
The burgeoning chef’s meal of choice was burgers.
“We had hamburgers all weekend long. As a young person, you can eat a hamburger every meal,” Rush explained. “My grandfather was probably thinking, ‘Thank the Lord, grandmother is back. I can have gravy and biscuits now.’”
His interest in cooking grew in the following years. By 15, Rush was already working at a professional level in his father’s restaurant. His early resume also included working at the Ocoee Inn, where he received on-the-job instruction from the resident cooks.
He would later pursue higher education at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. The years following graduation found Rush in various roles, from serving as a private chef to fine dining to working in the health industry.
Becoming an educator was not a part of the plan.
“If someone had told me I would be teaching years ago, I would have said, ‘No way am I going to waste my education on those yard apes,’” Rush explained.
His mindset toward teaching is vastly different today.
“Students can stand on my shoulder to help achieve their goals,” Rush said. “I give them snippets of my history to help them consider things they may not have before.”
The course will be offered at three levels: Culinary Arts 1 through 3. Students will learn the three types of cooking methods (moist, dry and combination); the breakdown of beef; knife skills; how to use various materials in the kitchen (glass, plastic, metal); and pancake math (how to cut a recipe in half).
Most importantly, Rush stressed the students will learn safety and sanitation.
Students will learn how to prepare meals and will have the opportunity to cook a variety of pastries, a variety of grilled chickens, roast pork, beef tips, pot roast, roast turkeys, homemade dressings, dried apples, pies, corn bread and omelettes.
Rush is interested in making his students’ job ready.
“We are trying to make this a real-life experience,” Rush explained. “I want them to be able to work into a position or [pursue higher education].”
Students will also have the opportunity to compete in Skills USA and Pro Start competitions.
Rush has big plans for his students.
“The kids will be preparing for the outside events, but they will also be doing projects for themselves,” Rush explained. “The first few projects they will do for themselves. A teenager has got to get in the habit of sanitation and safety.”
The program is expected to be a popular choice for students interested in being on the opposite side of the cooking experience.