Cooking in the face of COVID-19



Culinary students are learning the essential skill of presentation. The results are simply stunning.

Culinary is one of the most popular classes at Perry, filling up every year during early registration. COVID-19 has impacted every course, among those affected is Culinary, as it’s one of the most hands-on classes at Perry.

First quarter culinary consisted of cooking assigned for students to do at home, a product of the limitations of lockdown. When asked about the transition from in-person to online, Sophomore Sophia French said: “It’s hard at home because you can’t ask questions, but when you’re here you have a group and they can help you out.” Cooperation is an essential part of the food industry that was missing during the lockdown, but with the return of in-person school, students are able to properly work in the kitchen.

When people think of cooking classes they picture everything from sizzling skillets to cookies fresh out of the oven, but students learn much more behind the scenes. An often underrated skill is presentation: the process of arranging food to look stunning on the plate. Working under pressure is also an often overlooked skill that is required; cooks must learn to handle multiple items at once.

The class isn’t by no means easy though, the program doubles as training for students going into the food industry. Junior Kristen Fortney, a culinary student, cited note-taking as the worst part of the class, saying “It’s culinary, we just want to cook, and with block day taking notes for two hours can get pretty boring.” Cooks are also required to obtain their food handlers license for class, an essential item for working anywhere in the food industry.

This year is sure to be more than a little out of the ordinary for many students, but for Perry’s culinary program, being forced to adapt could serve as excellent preparation for the ever evolving restaurant industry. Culinary teacher Angela Stutz said that while she “definitely prefers in person” but that online learning has made her students “resilient and adaptable.”

While it may seem that having students cook together during a pandemic is risky, culinary is actually among the cleanest and well sanitized areas of campus. No one wants to cook in a dirty kitchen, and students are always sure to keep their spaces neat and clean even in less trying times. While many young cooks dismay at washing dishes, keeping plates and cookware spotless is essential in real kitchens around the world, and is a healthy habit for aspiring chefs.

Students face many challenges this year, and Culinary is not only surviving but thriving despite current circumstances.