La Quinta High School Culinary Arts students

La Quinta High School is focusing more and more on offering healthier food choices as part of the La Quinta High School Culinary Arts Institute program. On March 20, the culinary institute will launch its latest venture: Healthy Tastings for Healthy Teachers, a pilot project including a pop-up restaurant on campus to provide lunch for the faculty and staff of the high school. (Policy restricts serving students.)

The culinary arts 3rd and 4th year students will pilot three more concepts before school closes in June. Each of the restaurants will have a different theme and serve cuisine typical of their featured region. The lucky recipients of this fine fare will be the staff and faculty of La Quinta High. The meals will include lunch-size portions at a minimal charge, which helps to fund the class.

Each concept was created and developed by a team of four students with the help of Chef Felicia Benavides and Mrs. Sheri Tucker, the program coordinator/instructor. The four concepts chosen to be implemented reflect the ingenuity and creativity of the students. The first concept is the product of the senior class. The Mexican-Italian themed Los Amigos de Finites boasts a low-calorie, high-protein main dish at the center of its limited, but delicious, menu choices. In addition, the students researched side dishes, desserts and developed beverage combinations to reduce sugar consumption and complement the meals.

Each of the four concepts will be open for one day, beginning on March 20 and continuing with Mateo’s on April 3. The final two are Juniors Burgers on April 24 and finally, El Centro on May 8 to round out the series with a lighter, fresher approach to Mexican fare. The students are anxious to have the opportunity to show their academic teachers their culinary skills.

The Culinary Arts Institute at La Quinta High School (LQHS) offers a 3-year pathway program for 10th – 12th grade with an additional introductory year for incoming 9th graders. The LQHS program is the only culinary arts program in Desert Sands Unified School District and one of only two high school culinary arts programs in the Coachella Valley. The LQHS program has been recognized for its record 7 ProStart California State Competition Championships and for its popular Blackhawk Showdowns, in which two local chefs go head-to-head in competition, with the culinary arts students acting as sous chefs with the audience voting for their favorite dishes.

For further information, contact Michael Magnera, assistant principal for CTE at [email protected] or Sheri Tucker, culinary arts coordinator at [email protected] or call La Quinta High School at (760) 772.4150.

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