What started as an effort to bridge the gap between seniors and high school students has now become a popular weekly community event for Maple Ridge secondary.
For the past five years, chef Trevor Randle and his culinary arts students have hosted weekly dinners almost every Thursday evening throughout the school year – attracting residents from Maple Ridge, Mission, Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam.
“Members of the community get to come in and see what today’s teenagers are doing and what goes on in the building,” said Randle. “On the flip side, students get to interact and have fun with the seniors and their community. It’s a real win-win.”
Due to the overwhelming interest, Randle posts a new menu online each week and takes reservations for more than 150 guests, often selling out.
In addition, the kitchen also offers a “to-go” service to accommodate the busy schedules of single moms and young families who don’t have time to cook.
Under Randle’s guidance, students prepare, cook and serve a buffet-style dinner. Working in a commercial grade kitchen, the culinary arts students are able to prepare a variety of meat, fish and vegetarian entrees, fresh vegetables, salads and desserts for their guests to enjoy.
“Our goal is not only to teach kids how to cook properly, but also how to present food in the right way,” said Randle. “Students are learning life skills – how to cook the right way and purchase responsibly. At the end of the day, they can apply what they learn to make tasty food for themselves and for others.”
For their final dinner of the year – Thursday, May 19 – MRSS had 180 people attend.
And for the first time, students prepared cedar plank salmon with a fresh mango salsa and served it to the tables.
“The food is excellent and you can’t beat it,” said Sylvia Cobb, a guest. “You can go to the most expensive restaurant in this town and you won’t get a meal like you get here.”