Eastland-Fairfield Career Center news

Photo courtesy of Eastland-Fairfield
Some of the tasty food prepared by students in the Eastland Career Center Culinary Arts program.

The Heritage Room benefits students and diners
The door opens to The Heritage Room and a student warmly greets a group of customers with rumbling stomachs. In the back, knives are chopping, pans are sizzling, and instructions are being delivered among about 15 students working together to complete the requests of seated diners. Strong aromas of different spices, meats, and baked goods flood the dining room as the service staff collects incoming orders. A young boy seated with his father can be heard saying, “This is really yummy, Daddy!”

Yes, The Heritage Room at Eastland Career Center is open for business once again, delivering delicious meals and desserts to staff, families and community members. It also provides an unparalleled experience to students in the Culinary Arts program. The first service of the year took place on Sept.14-15 and the opening week’s menu theme was Central American cuisine.

Valeria Naranjo (Bexley), Ian Tolbert (Canal Winchester), Marvin Figueroa (Groveport Madison), and Madison Smith (Hamilton Township) were chosen to build the menu of the first dining service and chose a Central American theme. The seniors chose to feature entrees that showcase popular foods and ingredients of Central American culture. The final menu created eye-popping excitement and anticipation for the doors to open.

For starters, guests were given the choice of Sopa de Res (a hearty vegetable beef soup) or Ensalada de Mangos (mixed greens with mango yogurt dressing). Next, a selection of fabulous entrees such as Churrasco Sirloin Steak, Fried Yuca Cheese, Pupusa Carnitas, Baleadas Hondurenas, or an Empanada sampler. For those looking for a local dish with a regional flare, Taco Pizza, Double Black Bean Burger, or a chicken and cheese quesadilla. For those who enjoy seafood, the menu provides options including Shrimp Ceviche cocktail and salad, and a grilled swordfish steak topped with mango and pineapple salsa.

For dessert? Guests can select from a Caramel Flan (a rich, sweet custard topped with caramel sauce) or Arroz con Leche (a variation of rice pudding topped with cinnamon), both very popular in Latin American communities.

The experience is not just about cooking a meal; it’s about learning the culture, too.
Naranjo and Figueroa, both students that are of Central American descent, said that it was fun to cook foods that showcase their heritage, to teach their classmates how to cook them and the cultural significance behind some of the dishes. Naranjo was born in Costa Rica and moved to the United States nearly four years ago. Figueroa’s families are from Honduras and El Salvador.

Tolbert said he followed their lead, but stated the group had to pick different food items to bring variety to the menu and develop recipes for those items.

“It was really cool to see all of that (planning) put into action and actually put out into service,” said Tolbert.

The Heritage Room provides students in the Culinary Arts program with the unique opportunity to manage and operate an on-site restaurant and provide customers with a fine dining experience as part of building their professional portfolio. It’s part of the reason many students choose the Culinary program, to put knowledge into practice in a very hands-on way.

Over the course of their first two-day service, a steady flow of customers kept both sides of the house busy and delivered some invaluable lessons about working in the hospitality industry. Multiple parents and family members came to support their children preparing meals. Staff members from EFCTS associate schools also visited to support the menu architects.

The young boy finishes the final bits of food on his plate and asks his father, “Can I do this when I grow up?”

Yes, you can. In fact, why wait until you “grow up”? Summer Camp (for students in grades 6-8) is a great way to explore and experiment with careers, including the culinary world, and it will be here before we know it. Eastland-Fairfield invites members of the community, young and not-as-young, to dream big and visit The Heritage Room for an experience within an experience.

The Heritage Room and the Bakeology Bakery are scheduled to be open for business every Thursday and Friday from 10:05 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. (while school is in session) during the first semester. Each week will feature a new menu put together by a different group of senior students. In the second semester, special event-themed dining experiences will be planned and announced. The Heritage Room is open to EFCTS staff, community members, and associate school staff, or by invitation. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 614-836-5725, ext. 1416.

Community Conversations
Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools will host its Community Conversations during the 2023-24 school year.

The Community Conversations series addresses important topics and issues impacting students, families, staff, and communities. Local and national topic experts will address sex trafficking, self-defense, and financial planning.

All sessions of the Community Conversations series are open to the public and are provided at no cost to attend. The sessions will be held at Eastland Career Center, inside the Engineering Technologies Center. except for the final session in May, which will be held virtually.

“We created Community Conversations to inform our community and families about relevant topics that may impact our students as they prepare for their next E,” said Dwight Carter, Director of Student Support Systems and organizer of the Community Conversation series. “The more we learn about these topics, the better equipped we are to have honest conversations with them about their challenges and opportunities, and to help them avoid or overcome barriers along the way.”

Information is available online at www.EastlandFairfield.com/communityconversations.

The sessions:

•College Financial Planning with Keystone Financial Services, presented by Ryan Fleming, on Nov. 15 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

•Sex Trafficking Awareness and Education PLUS Self-Defense Training, presented by Karla Highman (Walking Wise) and Tim Voris (EFCTS Basic Police Officer Training Commander), on Jan. 17th, 2024, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

•Can You See Me Now, presented by: Hilliard Awareness and Recovery Together, on March 6, 2024. from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

•Decoding Adolescence: Unlocking The 4 Key Reasons Teens Break Down, presented by Dr. Cam Caswell, on May 1, 2024, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. (This will be a virtual presentation, link will be available closer to the event date.)

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