Wekiva High School officially launches Culinary Arts Magnet

Wekiva High School officially launched its Culinary Arts Magnet program this year and hundreds of students are enrolled. The teacher says this is the training ground for students to enter the industry. 

"Have you ever used a pastry bag," said Chef Michael Harman, Executive Pastry Chef at Universal Studios. 

Students lined the table in front of him and leaned in to listen. 

Wednesday’s class included a hands-on lesson with renowned chefs from Universal Studios. It’s a lot different than class last year when students were learning in their own kitchens because of COVID.

"Had to record ourselves cooking – every step of the process," said Robert Davidson, Sophomore, "Actually have someone be there with me saying you’re doing this wrong or right." 

This school has offered culinary classes before – but this is the first year it’s an official magnet program.

"336 students and there is a waiting list for next year," said Christopher Bates, Program Director for the Culinary Arts Program, "Right now we’re pulling from 7 different high schools." 

"Working with a lot of quick breads, yeast, learning how to do mass production," said Nathan Marchman – Junior.

Skills needed in the hospitality and food service industry. A November report from the U-S Department of Labor noted employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 8.2 percent, since February 2020. 

"What a great opportunity for our students to not just think that career would fit me well, but actually start doing the career now," said Bates.

Students are also getting work certifications – like ServSafe credentials – that allows them to graduate and be eligible to work at places like Universal Studios.