Culinary Arts Class
The Culinary Arts Program was implemented at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail (ACRJ) in August of 2004 under the instruction of Ms. Dolores Johnson. In 2008 Ms. Johnson decided to return to school and pursue a higher degree. At that time, Ricky Clark, who was the Director of Food Services at the time Ms. Johnson was hired, was asked by Ms. Phyllis Back (Director of Programs) if he would be interested in returning to ACRJ as the Culinary Arts Instructor. He accepted the challenge and thus the class remains full steam ahead.
To date, there have been 19 classes with approximately 113 students graduating from the program. From these students there have been those who have become managers in the food service industry as well as some who own franchises in the business. There is opportunity for the students to graduate with three certificates, a Prep Cook certificate from CATEC (which can be used in working towards a higher certificate or a degree from PVCC), ACRJ (certificate of completion) and NRA (which is the internationally recognized Serv-Safe certificate).
The Culinary Arts Program consists of six weeks of Serv-Safe training with an exam at the end of instructions. This part of the class is about food safety and sanitation and is the part that the students seem to be in awe of as we proceed through it. The students are amazed at all the things no one has taught them about personal hygiene and safety as it pertains to food. Something as simple as singing happy birthday to determine that you have washed your hands long enough to assure you have killed all bacteria present.
The next six weeks consist of basic culinary procedures such as, measuring, definitions, culinary terms, cooking, baking, reading recipes, and teamwork. After two weeks of classroom exercises the students go to the kitchen to begin their hands on experience. At this point, they have selected the items they want to prepare and have made their grocery list. The instructor will then purchase the needed items from the local Food Lion and bring in the ingredients.
The students then prepare the meals that they have selected. They are graded on a ten-point scale with categories such as consistency, color, taste and techniques taken into consideration. The meal is then consumed by the students and the instructor, of course, which add taste and presentation to the above categories.
Their final night is a graduation ceremony sponsored by ACRJ that portrays the pride that the students actually take in the program and what they have learned. Here, they are presented with their certificates and have their picture taken (if desired) in cap and gown. They also participate in the reception consisting of finger foods that they have prepared served with cake, punch and chips from ACRJ.
This night also consists of a special guest speaker from the culinary field who shares their experiences and offers encouragement to the students. In addition the Assistant Superintendent, Lt. Colonel Roland Beauford, offers opening remarks and the Superintendent, Colonel Ronald Matthews, has closing remarks. The Director of Programs assists with handing out the certificates and plays the role of the Photographer.
When one class ends, another one begins in an attempt to equip as many offenders as we can with an opportunity to better themselves and stay out of the correctional environment. We appreciate all support that the community offers and look forward to being a small part of building a better community.
The 2009 Chocolate Festival was a big success!