Sunday, December 26, 2010

Teen chefs cook for Habitat volunteers

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

Building a house – that’s hard work, work that can make a man hungry.
Dec. 15 at noon, nobody knew that better than Chuck Dawson, of Georgetown. He’d been up since 7 a.m., working on the Habitat for Humanity house at 504 S. Doak St. in Taylor. And he was hungry.
“Oh, just let me look at a picture of food,” Dawson said, rubbing his belly. “I’ll salivate at that.”
His lunch was a little late.
Taylor High School’s Culinary II class was preparing a spaghetti lunch for the Habitat for Humanity volunteer crew, but their work was about half an hour behind schedule.
“With the finals schedule and the holidays here, things have just been hectic,” said Candice Martin, the culinary arts teacher at Taylor High School.
At about 11 a.m. Martin’s kitchen at Taylor High School was packed with 40 empty Styrofoam lunch containers. She was giving orders to her four senior Culinary II students.
“Edward, you toss the pasta and Victor – keep an eye on the bread,” Martin said. “We’ve got to get this food ready for delivery.”
Dressed in true chef’s attire, the students were busy but seemed happy to be cooking on deadline.
“Habitat for Humanity does good, building houses for people who need them,” said Edward Barrera, 17. “And the workers, they need to have some good food to eat after work like that.”
Barrera was boiling enough pasta to feed the 40 volunteers at the work site.
“I’ve got to get it al dente,” Barrera said.
To his right was fellow chef Katherine Rodriguez, 17. Interested in pursuing a career as a pastry chef, she was busy putting the final touches on two large pans of cheesecake.
“Habitat for Humanity is a good charity,” Rodriguez said. “If my cooking helps them do their work, then I’m glad to do it.”
Co-chefs Taylor Donovan and Victor Ramirez, both 17, were also eager to be cooking. Donovan’s creation was the spaghetti sauce and Ramirez was master over the garlic bread.
“I cook for the sake of cooking,” Donavan said. “It’s a passion.”
It was 12:30 p.m. by the time the food arrived at the Habitat for Humanity work site.
The tired and hungry Dawson was one of the first volunteers in the lunch line at the picnic table.
When he sat down and opened his container, his eyes were as bright as any child’s. He took a bite and said, “Now, that was worth the wait.”
After a few minutes and several more bites, Dawson had this to say, “It sure was nice of those kids to do this for us.”
His fellow volunteers felt the same way.
Martin said she received similar reports over the lunch that her Culinary II class prepared for the Habitat for Humanity workers Dec. 8. It was a meal of two tacos, some Spanish rice and a peppermint holiday cupcake.
This month marked the first time for Taylor High School’s culinary department to cater lunch for Habitat for Humanity.
“When they were looking for groups that could donate lunch, I thought it would be a good idea,” Martin said. “Maybe it’ll be something we can continue.”
From its own fundraising projects, the culinary department was able to provide the money it took to pay for the Habitat lunches.
The students were happy to contribute to the cause, and Dawson, of course, was happy to get his lunch.
But nobody was happier than Joanne Johnson, the soon-to-be homeowner who tends to the lunch line every afternoon at the work site. She had an ear-to-ear smile on her face as she passed out the plastic ware and hand sanitizer.
“This house, it’s going to be a new home for me and my husband, Gene,” Johnson said. “And the first thing I’m going to do is decorate my kitchen.”

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