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HTHS Culinary Academy Cooks Up Student Success

November 15, 2021

Sarah Dorsett
Student Journalist/TCS Public Relations

(TCS) - The Hospitality and Culinary Arts Academy (Culinary Program) at Hewitt-Trussville High School (HTHS) is simultaneously educational and fun. As I got the amazing opportunity to observe one of Chef Anna Hallman’s classes, I saw how involved and excited the students were about preparing their specific dish. 

The program is open to grades 9-12. On this particular day -- students began their work by preparing their cooking stations. The students started by preparing their cooking stations to follow the health guidelines set in place. They usually cook on Wednesdays and Thursdays due to the extended class periods. This gives the students enough time to properly sanitize and prepare their cooking stations for their specified dish. 

As you can imagine, this year looks a little different than last school year, when the pandemic was in full force.

“Last year was a challenge due to shortened class periods,” Chef Hallman said.  “We usually cook on block day which we didn’t have last year. The students had to prepare all their ingredients one day and cook the next day. We all had to be super organized to pull it off.” 

Culinary students enjoy the entire process - start to finish.

“After she puts us in groups and gives us our recipe, we wash our hands and put our hair back to prepare for our meal. If we have to use the oven, everyone puts their meals in at the same time,” explains Abigail Wilkenson, Junior at HTHS. 

As I conversed with Chef Hallman, I learned that the students get to participate in an annual NASA competition (the HUNCH Culinary Challenge). They have to prepare a meal and menu for astronauts as they make their journey through space. The first-place winners get a full scholarship for a culinary degree, and 2nd and 3rd place winners get money for scholarships as well. The HTHS Culinary Program actually came in first place in 2020. Their menu is going to be used by astronauts in an upcoming trip to space. 

Chef Hallman creates mini competitions, cupcake,s and cake bake-offs for her students.  This not only creates friendly competitions - but also teaches students to cook to the best of their abilities under pressure. The Culinary Program takes pride in not only being an amazing asset to our community but also helping prepare students to become successful in their college and/or career endeavors.

Hewitt-Trussville High School’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts Academy has been around for almost a decade.  See more about this program on its official website