By: Jen Russon
The culinary classroom at JP Taravella smells pretty good; it offers a full lunch menu and serves faculty and staff every day when school is in session. The kids have also learned to prepare Mardi Gras inspired food for homecoming week including po’ boys and jambalaya.
But there’s also a whiff of victory in the air.
JP Taravella, a Florida ProStart high school, beat out 240 other schools in the state, claiming a $50,000 grant from the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation or FRLAEF.
“My first thought when I learned we won was, ‘I have a lot of work to do’,” said Culinary & Hospitality Instructor Scott Goodman.
Goodman added that he hopes the grant money, to be used for an extensive kitchen remodel, makes his students even more competitive with other schools in the district.
“Some of the facilities we’re competing with have million dollar facilities. I needed to figure out what benefits the kids the most,” said Goodman, who has taught culinary arts at the Coral Springs school since 2004.
Goodman said he has purchased a new line for his kitchen; the class will have gas-powered stoves, double stack and baking ovens, an overhead broiler and other state-of-the-art features.
He is hoping the renovation encourages the kids to charbroil more fresh vegetables, and bake more fresh pizzas and breads.
“This stuff is going to get used. It’s not just going to sit there,” said Goodman, who accepted the award in a formal ceremony on Tuesday in Orlando.
Goodman said he expects to meet Superintendent of Broward County Schools, Robert Runcie at the event. This is not the first time, the veteran chef and teacher has won awards for his classroom. In 2016, Taravella placed third in the 16th Annual ProStart Culinary Team Competition, traveling to Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando to compete. Soon after, Goodman’s class won a class trip to the Georges-Frêche School of Hotel Management in France.
Although it was fairly easy to make the case that they should receive the grant, Goodman said it was surprising to win the Extreme Prostart Kitchen Makeover. The kitchen, as students know it now, has had only minor upgrades, since 1981.
The teacher said that the day he was informed of the win, his class had just finished competing in Prostart’s best grilled cheese competition.
Goodman’s students range from level one where they learn safety, sanitation and cooking basics to level three seniors who go on to cook for the Ritz Carlton, or gain acceptance into well-known culinary programs, like the one offered at Johnson and Wales University in Miami, or most recently, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Culinary Arts School.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.