The Farmer & The Chef in the news...

Bake the Night Away in the News...

Cookies say thanks to police 10,000 times

The News Journal December 22, 2010

Culinary arts students at Delcastle Technical High School are making cookies for every law enforcement officer in Delaware as a token of thanks for their staffing of sobriety checkpoints.

The students involved include Shelby Doyle, Sadé Robertson, Shanté Davis and Sarra Yanacek scooping out dough (photo above) and Samantha Zimmerman pulling trays out the oven (photo below).

Last year, the students produced more than 10,000 cookies by working overnight in a marathon baking session.

The same is planned for this year, taking over for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which previously conducted the Cookies for Cops campaign.

Children from surrounding elementary schools help by decorating cookie boxes along with students from other career areas at Delcastle.

At 7 this morning, students will load the boxes into vehicles to distribute the cookies throughout the state.


Great Gingerbread House Construction Tour in the News...

Delcastle High School's Cooks and Bakers serve up holiday cheer

By Adam Zewe
Community News
Dec 15, 2010
Newport, Del. —


Community service never tasted so sweet.

Delcastle Technical High School’s Cooks and Bakers Club is giving back to the community this holiday season by helping young kids across the county make gingerbread houses.

The club, now in its eighth year, is the community service and competition arm of the culinary program at Delcastle, said Chef James Berman, culinary instructor.

“It’s service learning,” Berman said. “They’re building on the skills they’ve started to develop in school and they’re learning while serving the community.”

The 50 students in the club plan and organize all the events, he said, and they also fundraise for each project. Each year’s club tries to outdo the success of the previous year’s, he said, and they are on pace to make more than 1,000 houses on the 2010 Gingerbread House Tour.

All families who participate are asked to bring donations for the Food Bank of Delaware and the club has collected a healthy pile of non-perishable food through its tour stops, Berman said.

The Delcastle students bake the graham crackers and make the icing for the houses, which are built around empty-milk-carton frames. But aside from the culinary skills the students practice, they also learn about event planning, time management and setting priorities, Berman said.

The group has taken their Gingerbread House Tour to the Ronald McDonald House, as well as community centers, senior centers and libraries.

“Its kind of what makes my holiday season, seeing these guys take a project and make it come to life,” he said.

The students will undertake a second holiday-themed project this year when they bake Christmas cookies for every law enforcement officer in the state as a token of thanks, Berman said. Last year, they baked more than 10,000 cookies and are planning to meet that mark again through an all-night bake-a-thon, he said.

For the Gingerbread House Tour, the students assemble plates of edible building materials for the young participants, including candy, graham crackers, icing and pretzels, and then guide them as they start construction.

It’s hard work to make a tour stop come off smoothly, but it is also good practice for the real world, said Cameron Johnson, 16, a sophomore.

“I’ve learned how to set up events and work together with other people,” he said.

Working with Cooks and Bakers has taught sophomore Kaylana Martinez new techniques to be creative in the kitchen, she said. But the educational benefits are outweighed by the intangible rewards of helping others, said Martinez, 15, of New Castle.

“It just feels good to bring a smile to people’s faces,” she said.

Sophomore Kaylana Martinez, of Wilmington, spoons icing into cups during the Gingerbread House Tour.

Justine Legutko, a sophomore of Newark, decorates gingerbread cookies.



Binders Cafe in the News...


Community Service in the News - From Nickelodeon News

Cookin' Up Some Fun


Step into a community center or library in northern Delaware on any given afternoon or weekend, and you might just find yourself wearing a chef's apron and wielding a whisk. It's all part of a cooking school that's taken to the road where kids teach kids how to make mouth-watering meals and delicious desserts.

The teachers are the members of Cooks and Bakers, a volunteer group of 10th and 11th graders from Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington DL, who have a real passion for food. They enjoy teaching others about food and meal prep, and they spend a lot of time outside school, going above and beyond their class work and homework, to teach younger kids about what they love.

The Cooks and Bakers bring their portable ovens and burners to wherever younger kids might be and get them involved in a fun cooking project. Their students range in age from 4 to 14.

"Kids get really goofy grins on their face and they get happy when they see what they've done," said 17 year-old Cassy.

"Yeah, the smiles on all the little kids' faces is great," said Matt, 16.

It's no wonder. At a December event, kids were treated to freshly baked gingerbread houses that they then go to decorate them themselves. In April, Cooks and Bakers did a whole Dr. Seuss-themed cooking class, including of course -- green eggs and ham (hint: use green food coloring).

"We look at children's books for inspiration," said Ashlee, 17. It's a way to encourage a love of reading and a love of good food at the same time.

Next up, an event planned around the author Roald Dahl. Lucky for the kids who will show to that one. Dahl is the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

"The students involved in Cooks and bakers are taking what they've done in the classroom and they're learning it on a whole other level, " said Culinary Arts teacher Jim Berman who advises the club. "And they're contributing to the community through community service."

The Cooks and Bakers do everything from selecting recipes and shopping for ingredients to preparing their presentation and carrying their portable oven and burners to the location. "They bring the kitchen to the kids," says Berman.

At first the club members were nervous about getting in front of a large group of kids and teaching them to cook. But the young students were instantly engaged and excited about the project.

"The kids taught us to be ourselves and to have fun with it, just like they were," said Jessica, age 16.

After the cooking and baking, everyone gets to chow down always a highlight of the events. And then the kids take recipes home with them. "They've learned that they can cook and they can go do stuff at home," said Matt, who's been cooking since he was seven. "These are students who have a really strong desire to go into the field of culinary arts," said Berman. "And they are doing this great community service and getting other kids excited about cooking and baking too."


Building holiday cheer one tasty house at a time

By Michele Reynolds

Community News

Dec 01, 2008

Newport, Del. —

Peppermint windows, frosted shingles and a chocolate bar chimney -- oops, someone ate the chocolate.

No problem. It’s all a part of the fun happening on the Annual Gingerbread House Construction Tour, organized and run by Cooks and Bakers Club, a student volunteer cooking troupe from Delcastle Technical High School.

The event, sponsored by Hy-Point Dairy, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster Books, and WJBR 99.5, celebrates its sixth year of community service, as students in the club introduce young participants to the science of cooking all around town. They provide the icing on the cake for the holiday season in settings open to the public like the Newark Library, as well as in private settings for special needs groups like the kids staying at Ronald McDonald House in Wilmington.

It is service learning at its best, said James Berman, culinary arts instructor at Delcastle.

“Applying what they learn takes it to the next level. They have to multi-task, because that’s what employers are looking for. They develop leadership, write grants and create logos. They own this event,” said Berman.

Delcastle senior Rachel Payne enjoyed taking the gingerbread tour to the Ronald McDonald House in Wilmington last year, because it was good to see the kids and their families participate, and because the event made her feel like a kid again.

Senior Jenee Manlove, said the event had a big effect on her. Last year, she brought her 4-year-old God sister, and to this day, the gingerbread house she made is still on display, and she’s already asking about this year’s event.

Sophomore Admin Hernandez said he loves baking, pastry and decorating cakes. He has never worked with kids before and was a little nervous.

Even so, everyone gets a lot out of giving in the club.

“I like seeing how creative they can be,” said junior Brandon Lindell, admiring how some kids got creative and wrote their names with icing.


Student cooks hit the road
Delcastle Technical's culinary club gives children a taste of the profession

Staff reporter

Student cooks and bakers at Delcastle Technical High School in Christiana Hundred provide free delivery.

But they're not taking orders for food. They're heading out into the community to show off what they've learned about food preparation.

Students in the Delcastle Cooks and Bakers Club visited the New Castle Library in Old New Castle on Thursday to demonstrate how to make gingerbread houses. They will return for an encore demonstration Saturday. The programs are geared toward children.

The students visited St. Peter's Catholic School in New Castle last month to show the students how to work with food dye and make candy apples. It's basic stuff here - no fancy souffle dishes or pureed ingredients - just enough to give a taste of the culinary arts to young kids.

Club member Jill Sellers, 15, a sophomore, said she hopes the program helps children learn about cooking as she did as a young girl.

"My mom would let me help her make cookies during the holidays and stuff like that. It just helped me realize that I like cooking a lot and I might possibly want to make a career out of it," said Sellers, who wants to open her own restaurant eventually.

Club member Sean Velazquez, 16, also a sophomore, would like to have his own cooking show on TV when he gets older. He also learned at a young age that the kitchen was where he wanted to be.

"When my mom was cooking, I was wondering how it was done," he said. "I found out there was some work to it. I burned what I was making, but I learned it was fun."

Jim Berman, a culinary arts teacher at Delcastle High, came up with the recipe that mixes his students with younger children.

"I think it's nice to get younger students interested in culinary arts," he said. "They get to see that food doesn't just come from a box, it doesn't just come from a restaurant."

The traveling program also benefits the Delcastle students.

"It's real-world experience," Berman said. "It's perhaps piquing their interest as to what they might want to do with their careers."

Some of the culinary arts students at Delcastle also prepare lunch for faculty and staff and wait on tables in the Sandcastle Café, which doubles as a classroom at Delcastle during non-dining hours.

When they appear in public for their demonstrations, the students dress the part, wearing aprons, chef's hats and other kitchen attire, said Ralph Freeman, who also teaches culinary arts at Delcastle.

"It is kind of an outreach for the school because it lets people know about our program," Freeman said.

Pat Berrigan, a teacher at St. Peter's Catholic School, said her preschoolers loved the cooking lesson.

"They were very helpful with the kids, helping them mix the colors," she said. "It helps them to know what ingredients go in to making different things."

Reach Edward L. Kenney at 324-2891 or


Competition in the News

Competition tests skills in kitchen equivalent of four-hour obstacle course

By PATRICIA TALORICO, The News Journal, February, 2007

Matt Marshall was one of the first students to finish preparing the competition menu.
STANTON -- Slicing, dicing, searing, sautéing and simmering were some of the tasks judged at the SkillsUSA Delaware Culinary Arts Competition at Delaware Technical & Community College.

Eight high-school students donned toques and aprons as they took part in the Feb. 27 competition that included hot and cold food preparation and presentation.

The culinary arts students from Howard High School of Technology, Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School and Delcastle Technical High School had four hours to prepare a cheese-and-fruit platter, butternut squash bisque, spinach salad with hot bacon dressing, pan-seared sea bass with sundried tomatoes, and pan-fried chicken breasts. The students also had to cook a starch and a vegetable, and whip together a dessert of fresh berries and pineapple in a puff pastry pillow.

"Most chefs should be able to do this in an hour and a half," said David Nolker, chairman of Delaware Tech's culinary arts and food service management technology programs in Stanton. "It's fair to give the kids four hours."

Matt Marshall, a Delcastle High School senior, julienned zucchini with confidence to accompany his pan-fried chicken with gravy. "It's going pretty easy," said the 17-year-old, who works at the Home Grown Cafe in Newark and plans someday to open his own family-style restaurant.

During the competition, students were judged on sanitation and safety, organization, quality of the prepared items, presentation, creativity, garnish and knife skills -- they had to bone a chicken into eight parts.

Ingredients were organized on tables in a hallway.

Five judges, including the Hotel du Pont's chef Tom Hannum, roamed the kitchen as the students cooked, taking notes. When the food was carried to the dining room, the judges tasted everything and often asked students why they chose an item or how they prepared a specific dish.

Not every student finished the menu in the allotted time.

After time was called and the last dishes presented, judges made some general comments, and also promised to send their notes to all the schools so everyone could benefit from them. Among their observations:

•The judges were impressed that high-school sophomores, juniors and seniors displayed as much creativity as they did in their various choices.

•Timing was an issue. Many students attempted to prepare the menu in the order it was presented on paper, rather than reading through and starting tasks -- such as the soup -- that would take more time to finish cooking. That made a lot of the students late and prevented many from finishing.

•Students didn't always nail the required technique. For example, only a few students actually seared the sea bass, judges said.

•Some students favored speed over flavor and didn't taste or adjust the seasoning of the items they prepared. Sacrificing flavor is not the way to make a happy dining room, the judges said.

•Not a single student used a required sanitary bucket, filled with a sanitizing solution they were supposed to use to wipe down surfaces as they cooked.

The winner will be announced at an April 4 dinner and then will represent Delaware in a nationwide SkillsUSA competition in St. Louis, Mo.


Top Chef: Delaware
Vocational high schools train students as the next generation of culinary stars
By Eric Ruth
Gannett News Service

Emily Varisco photo
DelCastle student Tim Barker, 17, of New Castle, Del.,
pulls apart the squid-ink pasta with a crab cream sauce that he helped cook during
"A Taste for Art" to benefit Children and Families First at the Greenville Country Club.


GREENVILLE, Del. -- In an age when the notion of "fine dining" seems to be fading, it's good to know there's hope for the food lover's future.

You can see it in the eyes of the young chefs-to-be across Delaware who aren't wasting time in their pursuit of cooking credentials, and who won't have to depend on landing a spot at some exclusive culinary academy.

In the state's vocational high schools, teenagers are studying Escoffier instead of electronics. In community colleges, they choose to tackle baking instead of banking. Even the very youngest are stirring and sautéing before they can spell, thanks to cooking classes that are tailored for tots.

In some cases, the stovetop skills of these students are being judged not just by their teachers, but by the very people they will one day be hoping to please -- discerning upscale diners.

At one station, Howard High School of Technology chefs stacked sweet nuggets of duck confit on tiny toasts, giving each a drizzle of raspberry balsamic reduction. The squad joined fiery nuggets of tandoori chicken with a bright and snappy chutney of cilantro and mint, earning the admiration of at least one guest.

"It reminded me of a fresh Vietnamese spring roll with the mint stuffed in it," enthused Patricia Gurev.

"Your mouth just tingles."

Events such as these provide far more than tasteful thrills for the cocktail crowd; they serve as a real-world lesson for students who have never faced the high-intensity cauldron of commercial cooking. They must juggle pans even as they field curious questions; pamper guests even as they sear scallops.

"That's something that's difficult to teach," Delcastle instructor Jim Berman said of the need to present a professional demeanor. "It's constant exposure" that will give them poise. "They'll get there."

In terms of cooking skills, "getting there" is a process that takes chefs years to complete, and is why the schools here don't hesitate to challenge students early on.

"The actual curriculum is set up for classical French technique," considered the gold standard of chef training, noted Robert Parker, a Howard instructor.

"If they have that solid foundation in classical cuisine, they can do everything," added instructor Joanna Smyth Lupo.

Eventually, the students will be expected to plan and execute these events from start to finish, from staffing to snafus. "At school, they don't get to see the catering event from start to finish," Parker said.

"It's not just about the food. It's about organization. It's about leadership. It's about problem-solving," Berman said.

For student Danielle Bobb, 16, it was enough that she finally had conquered the intricacies of Japanese rolls in time for the fundraiser.

"We just covered these on Wednesday," she said. "It's really hard to get them to roll tight enough."

The challenge is especially daunting when the audience is so obviously familiar with high-end cuisine, the young chefs said. But without that fear factor, without some pressure, they will be far less prepared to face the real world, the instructors agreed.

"You raise the bar, they will reach for it," Berman said.