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For special occasions, Upper Bucks culinary students create Meals to Go


What started out as a fun way to celebrate the Eagles’ appearance in the 2018 Super Bowl has turned into a valuable learning experience for students in the popular Culinary Arts program at the Upper Bucks County Technical School.

As the Birds marched through the playoffs that year, Amber Ott, the school’s cafeteria manager, came up with the idea to offer buffalo wings and meatball trays for football-crazed fan Super Bowl parties. To her astonishment, they sold 1,500 wings and 12 trays of meatballs.

Customers raved about the quality.

And the “Meals to Go” menu at UBCTS was born, one of several innovative activities designed to give students in the Culinary and Baking/Pastry Arts programs a taste of what they might encounter in their career no matter what path they choose.

Not everyone is interested in working in a restaurant, says Ott.

Exposing students to the challenges of being involved in the catering business may open another opportunity, she says.

“The students really love being part of it,” says Ott. “It gives them another perspective on the food industry.”

For “Meals to Go,” Ott develops a full menu, which the students then prepare, package and distribute to customers. Sometimes, it’s seasonal as it was in March with traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare. For May, the theme is Cinco De Mayo.

April’s menu featured four choices: Chicken Marsala over Rice, Stuffed Shells and Meatballs, Sausage Peppers and Onions, or Smoked Pork and Stuffed Baked Potato.

As he patiently stuffed dozens of those baked potatoes, Pennridge junior Vince Nuzzolese said he loves the opportunity to work as a team on the meals. All around him, other students tended to their own projects.

“We get to create something that people will enjoy,” he says.

Across the room, Kiersten Phillips, a home-schooled senior, said the chance to deal with customers will help prepare her for a career in hospitality management, a program she intends to pursue at Bucks County Community College in the fall.

“I really enjoy this part of the day,” she says. “The classroom is fine and the restaurant is fun but this is where I like spending my time.”