Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

MP High School Culinary Arts Department ‘Stir It Up’

Dec 22, 2017
Photo by: Grace King MPCHS’s Culinary Arts Department held a holiday appetizer sampler on Thursday, Dec. 21, during the basketball game. The event was an effort to raise money for the department so students can travel around Iowa with their teacher, Marjorie Beckman, and learn about the culinary treasures the state has to offer.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The concessions stand had some competition during the basketball at Mt. Pleasant Community High School on Thursday, Dec. 21. With hot dogs and popcorn sold on one side of the cafeteria, the Culinary Arts Department was selling tortilla wraps, spicy corn dip, buffalo chicken dip, scotcheroos and Christmas crack toffee as part of a promotional “Stir It Up” holiday appetizer sampler.

The fundraiser for the Culinary Arts Department was organized by culinary arts teacher Marjorie Beckman, who wants to use the money to give more opportunities for her students to go on culinary treks across Iowa.

As much as culinary arts is about learning the art of cooking and baking, Beckman said, “It’s to train them for life, to let students get a leg up.”

The high school’s Culinary Arts Group was just one of many vendors serving delicious holiday appetizers. Hy-Vee, Keos, KLIJ, The Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance and representatives from Old Threshers were sharing with the community their unique take on holiday dishes.

Kat Zeglen, with Old Threshers, said she has always been a huge supporter of the culinary class. For “Stir It Up,” she wanted to make dishes with a new twist, such as horseradish bacon dill deviled eggs, garlic pigs in a blanket, and sweet-and-sour meatballs.

“(This department) is a treasure,” Zeglen said. “The students are lucky to have (Beckman).”

A little way down, Lisa Oetkin and Mikayla Mabeus, with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, were proud to be a part of the festivities and promoting the Culinary Arts Department. Oetkin said she too has been a supporter of the culinary arts in the community and events such as this are perfect for pushing that connection between school and the workforce in Mt. Pleasant.

Culinary arts students were excited that the community was eating food they made. Senior Tori Whitthoft said for her, the food they served was “easy to cook.” They even included a dish the students have made before at a competition — bacon and goat cheese dip.

“The culinary class doesn’t really get out, so having these things helps (the community) know what the Culinary Arts Department does,” Whitthoft said.

Senior Naemi Gonzalez said that each culinary class at the high school contributed in some way and being a part of the night was a cool experience in seeing how people react to the food they make.

For Whitthoft and Gonzalez, the Culinary Arts Department is more than just an extracurricular. It’s a passion. Gonzalez said being a part of the program has opened her eyes to what she wants to do after high school and that she knows the opportunities at Mt. Pleasant Community High School rival other high school’s culinary arts programs.

Whitthoft is even planning on attending Indian Hills Community College after graduation and enrolling in the Culinary Arts program, although she has yet to choose between the focus of baking or cooking.

“That’s a hard question,” Whitthoft said, her indecision clearly showing her love for both baking and cooking. “I’m in between on both. It’s going to be difficult to decide which one I want to go into.”

As game-goers, retired teachers and curious community members snacked on appetizers, they expressed their appreciation for students so passionate and willing to put in the work for an event like this.

“You don’t see that every day,” Rob Kinney said.

Sitting at a table of teachers content with the idea of Christmas break, Jeff Batey added that it seemed like a good thing to do on a Thursday night.

When asked what their favorite dish was, they simultaneously and without a beat answered, “That’s tough.”

“They were all good,” Kinney said. “I couldn’t pick a favorite.”

Retired teacher Marilyn Young said she frequently attends games at the high school and said it was a pleasant surprise to have something to eat other than pizza and hot dogs.

Beside her, Larry Brenizer said, “I’m not sure what I ate, but I liked it.”

Over at the concessions stand, Michelle White was happy to see people enjoying both the concessions and appetizers from the Culinary Arts Group. “It’s all for the school,” she said.

The high school offers three culinary arts classes. Currently, 98 students are enrolled across the three levels. Other extracurricular classes showcased during “Stir It Up” were Civil Engineering and Architecture, Welding, Automotive and Digital Electronics.

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