East Haven High School class periods are 45 minutes long. The class periods are not always long enough for an assignment, project, lab, or meal to be completed.
About a week ago at East Haven High School students were instructed to go around to gather some questions about the school that could be improved. After going around I found myself asking if 45 minutes is enough class time to cook a culinary meal? You may be thinking Sure, 45 minutes is a perfect amount of time. However, there is much more to culinary than just throwing food into a pan or oven. It also comes with many things to be aware about such as food preparation and proper clean up.
Cooking is all about how you prep, cook, and dispose of the food. You need to make it a priority to safely prepare food. First thing to know about food preparation is hand washing. You must always make sure you are not rushing too much that you forget to wash your hands for 20 to 30 seconds before handling food. Another important part is washing your hands after handling food as well, this is where cross contamination comes in. Bacteria that transfer to foods are not always visible or have smells. All food types must be kept separate so you are not transferring fluids and bacterias to other parts of the meal. This involves a lot of time and concentration to make sure you are paying attention to the detailed process of cooking.
Another major part of cooking is temperature, making sure everything is safely prepared for people and yourself to consume. When serving hot food it should be held at °F (60 °C) or warmer. Cold food should be held at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or colder. When these temperatures are not handled properly, many illnesses come into play. Illnesses such as E-coli, Salmonella, Food Poisoning.
Besides preparing and serving the food, cleaning up is also an important part to be handling safely. From lack of time in class. it may actually be causing a safety hazard. Often kids are worried about not finishing the meal and tend to either rush to do it so they have time to clean and get to their next class, or take their time with the meal and rush the cleanup process.
After speaking with Chef Trzcinski himself, I had the opportunity of asking him if he could change one thing to improve your class, what would it be? ¨Block Schedule. It would add more continuity into the lessons. You would be able to start and finish a project in one day, rather than two. It would really help connect faster to the students, so they can have more time to focus on the lesson.¨ Maybe forty five minutes isn't enough time to properly prepare, cook, and clean up without some sort of pressure to finish before the bell rings. How would you feel about a schedule change? Would you like or dislike the idea of a block schedule to do more hands on skills? Let us know!