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Lenawee Intermediate School District Tech Center and the WOW Cafe Partner for Success

Mar 6th, 2017

Ballard Brands

Training in a classroom setting is one thing. It's another to apply learned skills in a real-world environment.The Lenawee Intermediate School District Tech Center and the WOW Cafe and Wingery at Adrian College recently teamed up to offer second-year culinary students at the Tech Center a stepping stone between the classroom and a career.Jake Graf, chef and instructor at the Tech Center's culinary arts program, said the partnership with Scott Rossen, general manager of the cafe, was about one year in development, filling a niche because the Tech Center does not have its own classroom-restaurant.Students learn how to create culinary dishes in the class, Graf said, but at the cafe, other responsibilities are added to their list.Two days a week, 12 second-year students not only do meal preparation alongside WOW Cafe employees, but they wash menus, sweep floors, clean bathrooms and act as hosts, all under staff guidance.Graf said the final details of the partnership were ironed out over the summer, enabling the students to start their training this school year."For a lot of them, it's been an eye-opening experience," Graf said. "There is more to running a restaurant than cooking or serving."Rossen, who serves on the LISD hospitality program board, said the partnership is an opportunity to showcase not only Adrian College, but career opportunities.
"It enables the students to explore all aspects of the business, and it also gives an opportunity to recruit future employees and get them into their field," Rossen said. "There are chefs and preparers in hospitals, universities, nursing homes and remote sites."Jose Jimenez, a second-year culinary student from Adrian High School, said he got his love of cooking from his dad."I like getting the experience here — the back line, the front line, even cleaning," Jimenez said as he cleaned the menus for the day's customers. "You have to start at the bottom and work your way up."Jimenez said he hopes to open his own culinary business some day and plans to attend Jackson College after graduation.From there, the sky is the limit to him."I would like to stay here," he said, "but will go where opportunity takes me."