Carver Career and Technical Center Culinary Arts instructor Mandy Gum expressed sentiments of bon voyage and bon appetit to the 2020 graduates of the adult program at the Malden school via social-distanced social media means recently.
“It’s been a trying last semester being online,” Gum wrote to them on Facebook earlier this month. “However, each of you did a great job! I am proud of all of you and will always be your #1 Culinary supporter.”
Most of this semester’s classes were conducted online, due to COVID-19, which required “home cooking” assignments for the aspiring chef students.
“A lot of it was very self-motivated and self- paced,” Gum explained last week. “I had stuff set up for them to do online; I’d give them a list of materials on Monday and they’d turn in the recipe later in the week.
“There wasn’t as much cooking as I’d hoped,” she said. “In the classroom, under ordinary circumstances, we’d be cooking three to five recipes every week in our lab.
“This was definitely more challenging. I encouraged them to cook at home and send pictures to share with classmates and on social media.”
Along with using videos of other chefs, Gum employed the Marco Polo app to stay in touch with a few of her students during the quarantined semester.
As well as curtailing classroom practice, the pandemic quashed any plans for the Carver Culinary Arts students to show their skills in state and regional competitions this semester.
“Some of the students tossed around the idea of doing virtual competitions,” Gum said. “The competitions we compete in are through SkillsUSA, which are on a national and state level, about 50 or so on the state level and about 100 at nationals. They thought about using different methods, but you really can’t have a food competition without tasting the food. The ones who were going to Fairmont for the competition this year were very humble and understanding about it. I was really sad for them.”
The graduating class includes Cydny Latta, Germany Fisher, Shay Massey, Anthony Wilkins, Vincent Rodgers, Michael Jarvis, Destiny Workman and Hillary Haslebacher.
Carver’s Adult Culinary Arts Program is a one-year commitment for students to pursue careers in culinary services. Students receive a combination of comprehensive theoretical knowledge and hands-on training in a variety of aspects of the culinary industry, abiding by American Culinary Federation accreditation commission standards. After completing the program, students have an opportunity to gain national certification through the ACF as a Certified Culinarian or a Certified Fundamentals Cook, depending on job experience.
A graduate of the Carver Career and Technical Center Culinary Arts program, Gum has taught the course for the past eight years. A Lewis County native, she lives in South Charleston.