Quince Orchard students learn hands-on about culinary careers

A kitchen became the classroom for some local high school students. Sharing their love of food, they learned from the pros what it takes to work in the real world and the importance of giving back to those in need.

“Once you step into those shoes, everything changes,” says Carnell Jackson, a student at Quince Orchard High School.

The pace quickly changed as hours turned to minutes before the doors opened at Not Your Average Joe's restaurant in Gaithersburg.

“Everybody is going back and forth everywhere and it was hectic,” says Jackson. “You had to know what you were doing, what your job was.”

Jackson got the task of putting together a lunchtime favorite.

“I made a chicken tuscan sandwich,” he says.

That meal came with a side of training from restaurant staff.

“They’re working with each individual to work one station, kind or doing the preparation for the day and work on one item from the station,” says Erik Larson, general manager at Not Your Average Joe's.

“They’ve been working hands-on a lot and they’re been very supportive and happy,” says Jose de la Urquilla.

In the kitchen Tuesday, four students enrolled in a culinary program at Quince Orchard got a taste of working in a professional setting.

“The kids here today are interested in perhaps pursuing culinary as a career,” says Helen Mahoney, who teachers culinary arts at Quincy Orchard.

“I also had to cut the pizza,” says Justin Yuen, a student. “That was kind of hard and just making the pizza. I kneaded the dough, too.”

Another add-on was a lesson on philanthropy.

The students and staff prepped all morning for the lunch crowd, but they also made additional food for members of the community.

With boxes of pizza in hand, they served up a slide of goodness to the Wells/Robertson House, where the mission is to help fight homelessness and addiction.