Del Oro's new culinary arts facility has restaurant feel

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Del Oro High School is the home of a new, professional-grade culinary arts center. Walking into the $2.3 million culinary arts facility is like entering the kitchen of a busy restaurant. The spacious kitchen is filled with top-of-the-line, restaurant-quality equipment, all stainless steel. Seniors Emily Frink and Samantha Eggert, both teachers aides in the advanced culinary arts classes, said they “wanted to cry” when they first saw their new facility. “I love it. I’m so excited,” Emily said. Emily said their old facility, built in the 1950s, was “more like home economics.” “No one could get a real idea about what a working restaurant kitchen was like,” she said. That is not the case today. The 2,500-square-foot facility recently underwent a major renovation. The construction was paid for by a combination of district money and matching funds from the state, according to Gregg Roberts, director of facilities and planning services for the Placer Union High School District. Del Oro instructor Scott Domeny teaches the beginning creative foods classes along with the more advanced culinary arts classes. He also worked with the school district on the design for the new kitchen. The state-of-the-art facility features new stoves, prep areas, grills, deep fryers, warmers, refrigeration units, a restaurant-quality dishwasher, and even a pantry. Students now have six cooking stations with lots of room to prepare recipes. The only items remaining from the old kitchen are the dishes, cutlery, flatware and pots and pans. Domeny said much of the cost for the facility was in bringing in proper electrical, plumbing and venting to support the kitchen. The state also required the renovation of school restrooms, which are located next to the kitchen. Recently, the 23 students in the advanced culinary arts classes donned white chef coats, toques and hair nets, and prepared and cooked appetizers from recipes they’d found on the Internet. An additional 108 students in creative foods use the facility to learn the basics of cooking. “Cooking in a kitchen like this is a dream come true,” said senior Jake Chitty as he prepared marinated chicken kabobs with lemon pepper yogurt sauce. Sophomore Regan Ayers was preparing a cheesy artichoke dip and said she is hoping to get an internship at a local restaurant. “My dream is to open a bakery or pastry shop,” she said. Domeny said that next fall there will be a Regional Occupational Program class at the facility, which will be open to Placer County students.