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Culinary arts program begins at Crossroads Academy
Culinary arts program at Crossroads
Members of the culinary arts class include (from left): Jonathan Blythe, Joshua Broome, Jack Walker, Landon Marchant, Kaden Sowell, Chicago Maynor, with instructor Robert Larson.

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

Everyone has to eat. Effingham County needs a steady stream of skilled workers.

While a culinary arts program has been offered at the Effingham College and Career Academy for a few years, that same program is just in its first year at Crossroads Academy.

The class is offered in a 90-minute block and this semester nine students are participating.

“We need skilled labor,” said instructor Robert Larson, giving the simple answer to why the program is offered at Crossroads Academy. And the students really seem to enjoy the opportunity.

Chicago Maynor and Robert Larson
Freshman Chicago Maynor (left) gives a thumbs up to instructor Robert Larson as he tosses the first batch of potato wedges from the oven. (Photos by Barbara Augsdorfer/Effingham Herald.)
And why not? They were learning the finer points of creating baked potato wedges the day the Herald visited.

Review: The potatoes were uniformly sliced, crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, with just the right touch of saltiness. Five stars and two thumbs up.

Larson offered this tip for crispy wedges if you don’t have a convection oven: “Leave the oven door open just a little the first ten minutes of baking to remove moisture from the potatoes. Then close the door to continue baking.”

The students in the culinary arts program learn just about everything necessary for a job in a kitchen – everything from basic kitchen sanitation, knife skills, and of course, cooking. The three-year program prepares students to pass sani-safe certification. Larson added that eventually he would like to partner with local chefs.

“Our goal is to get kids working,” Larson said.