Cooking up chefs
Waiters bustled in and out of the kitchen Tuesday at Cirino’s at Main Street – placing orders, carrying plates, garnishing dishes and exchanging brisk repartee – while the dining area outside was alive with voices.
Retha Cavender, Nick Sargeant, Ian Owen and Anthony Rider – eighth graders from Lyman Gilmore School’s culinary class – were working in the kitchen, preparing salad under the watchful eye of restaurant co-owner Jerry Cirino.
This was the first time students from Lyman Gilmore were cooking a meal at Cirino’s kitchen. The dinner Tuesday was a fundraiser. Half of the proceeds of the evening went to the culinary program at the Grass Valley school.
“Having professional people around you is hard,” 14-year-old Cavender said. “You have to be in place so that you don’t mess anything up, because if you do, it may not be fixable.”
Cooking with chefs is also a humbling experience, Cavender said.
“Trying to get around the kitchen and make the food fast” was the biggest challenge for 13-year-old Sargeant.
“It’s a new environment,” Sargeant said. “We are learning more advanced stuff to cook. People are depending on your food to be good.”
Cirino was meticulous with his advice to his young apprentices. His instructions would often include the smallest detail, such as telling the students how high they should hold their hands when garnishing a dish.
The higher the hand, the more widely the garnishments would spread, Cirino taught.
“The best part of having them here is giving them an avenue for their passion and letting them know what a commercial kitchen is like so that they can make decisions about their future,” Cirino said.
The biggest challenge of guiding them is the time constraint, he said.
“They are enjoying being exposed to a commercial kitchen,” Cirino said. “They are enjoying being treated as adults.”
“He is right,” 13-year-old Rider added, promptly.
Cirino has collaborated with the Lyman Gilmore culinary class in the past. An alumnus of Lyman Gilmore’s program who had interned at the restaurant now works at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla., as a pastry cook.
The alumnus’ mother, Vicky Davids, was there at the dinner.
“For students who are interested in cooking at all, it increases their interest and encourages them to push forward in the careers,” Davids said. “For young people, this hands-on experience is great.”
To contact Staff Writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros @theunion.com or call 477-4229.
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