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Cooking with passion at the Sioux Falls CTE Academy

todayMay 13, 2024 2

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — The CTE academy here in Sioux Falls has classes that cater to students in the Sioux Falls School District.

One of these culinary classes is working to teach students the art of culinary cuisine. You may have tasted these students’ creations at Crawford’s during restaurant week.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, students from across the District come to Janelle Whempner’s class to learn the ins and outs of cuisine.

“It is curriculum put forth by the National Restaurant Association. And when kids leave here, they have the opportunity to have earned their ServSafe certification, which is a national certification, that is good for five years, and it’s recognized across the country and food service operations,” said Janelle Whempner, Culinary Arts Chef Instructor.

Whempner has been a culinary instructor for the last six years. But she’s always had a passion for cooking…

“As a teacher when you see a kid light up, and you see a passion ignited that fills your bucket that those are the things that keep you going when you see them go. Wow, I really enjoyed this or now I might want to do this for a living. That’s the thing that keeps teachers going,” Whempner said.

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A love she shares with her students.

“She really cares about her students. And it really just inspired me to because she’s probably one of my favorite teachers of all time, because she just really cares. She’s down to earth. And I mean, she creates these opportunities like she does for us being able to go on field trips and meeting new people,” said Alex Brenner, Senior at RHS.

Alex Brenner is a senior at Roosevelt High School. Brenner says she’s been cooking since she was little, it was that interest that led her to the class.

“It’s definitely just the creating portion of it. And you’re just like creating art for other people. And even myself, just being able to see all the different dishes you can make,” Brenner said.

Brenner isn’t the only one who has enjoyed spending time in the kitchen.

“I’ve had over four years of experience. So since I was 14, I’ve been in kitchens cooking,” Misty Vonderlieth, a hybrid student said.

“Since I was maybe seven or eight, he (his dad) kind of was like here do this or do that just kind of like little odd tasks, that by the time I was 13, or 14, I kind of kicked them out of the kitchen and told them I was I was going to take over,” said David Gunderson, senior at Brandon Valley.

“My grandpa who is passed away now. He always made food. And I always went over there. I’m like, oh, I should make this should make that he was when he started teaching me things and showing me new stuff to where like, I’d make stuff when I was over there. So he was definitely the spark of that,” said Jacob Newell, Senior at Brandon Valley.

Others in the class started cooking when they entered high school.

“When I got to high school, we had a culinary program like, oh, maybe I’ll try this. And then ever since I’ve kind of fell in love,” said Connor Ibis, junior at Lincoln High School.

These five students created a three-course meal consisting of a starter, entree and dessert and won the ProStart state competition. They recently competed nationally in Baltimore against 48 other states. A first for the team.

“Our whole team was talking about like, we’re in Baltimore right now, like we’re doing this. It’s like, you don’t really connect that. But it was it was pretty fun. I’m glad with how we performed we were pretty calm and collected,” Newell said.

“Kind of intimidating, because we were the last ones. But when we got to there, there was so much cheering from South Dakota from other states. Everybody was just full of love. Nobody really was like, oh, I want to beat you. It was all like, Oh, what did you make? How did this go?” Ibis said.

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South Dakota placed 31st, the highest ever placed by the CTE academy. Whempner says it was a close competition, and she’s ready to bring another team back next year.

“They did everything I could have asked of them. I wouldn’t- I thought they did perfectly. I was surprised they didn’t rank higher. But I was thrilled that they scored better than anybody from South Dakota has ever scored… And now we know we’ve had that little peek behind the curtain. So now it’s go time next year, we’re ready,” Whempner said.

The team says they learned so many lessons in this class.

“Everybody has their own moments in this class. I think I’m going to take out like a lot of like, you know, just keep being yourself don’t make it to someone else’s liking I guess,” Gunderson said.

And will carry this knowledge with them through college and their future careers.

“I’m so grateful I decided to take this class because I definitely wouldn’t have known what I was doing in the future. If It wasn’t for this class and Chef Whempner,” Brenner said.

In addition to cooking competitions, students can also participate in cake-baking and decorating competitions.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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