Alvirne’s Culinary Arts Program: a Cut Above the Educational Competition

September 28, 2018


by Doug Robinson

For 21 years, the Wilbur H. Palmer Vocational Center at Alvirne High School has inspired, encouraged, and developed the minds of the next generation with exceptional dedication to the student’s development and desired career.

One of the many vocational instructional learning opportunities within the four walls of the Vocational Center is Alvirne’s culinary arts program. Here, students “learn cooking and baking techniques (as well as) creating a balanced menu in Checkers Restaurant.

“Many students do know where food comes from,” said AHS Chef David Bressler. “They, or their parents or providers, go to the store, select a package of meat from the display case, but the students often have no idea as to how that selection not only got to the store, but what was involved with the packaging of that selection.”

Chef Bressler continued, “It’s important for our students to learn the benefits from ‘farm to table’ production of foods and then the cooking of those foods for a healthy health. We will continue to partner with local restaurant businesses who exemplify and who are willing to help us teach these processes.”

Thanks to a generous donation from Al Simoneau of Homestead Acres Farm, a 100-pound pig was donated to the culinary students so that they could learn the proper way to butcher. Longtime friend to Chef Bressler, Matt Provencher from The Foundry of Manchester, aided Chef Bressler with the proper technique of butchering.

As the pig was butchered, both Chef Bressler and Chef Provencher provided the students with significant detail on not only how to butcher a pig properly, but why it was important to butcher with the method they taught. Using one of the razor-sharp knives, Chef Provencher began the butchering at the front quarter of the pig and then proceeded to the rear quarter and then to the rib area of the pig. At each area of the animal, both chefs not only taught the students the hows of butchering, but the whys as well. Just about every part of the pig will be used in the restaurant in some creative meal.

“This 100-pound pig will yield about 50 pounds of meat which we will use in stews and meals. Every piece of meat is important in the restaurant industry. We do not wish to waste anything, and we want to provide our customers with the best meal experience possible,” explained Chef Provencher.

“Farm to table is an important farming program for not only for restaurants, but for local families as well,” continued Chef Bressler. “Farm to table not only supports our local famers, but it also supports our entire community and, this is how to eat healthy. Students learn not only what is healthy, but how to create a healthy meal.”

The students also learned the correct method to clean and prepare fish. Five different fish were donated to the class by New England Fishmongers of Kittery, Maine.

“Having professionals from the field come here helps re-enforce what Chef Dave is teaching to our students,” said Alvirne High School CTE Director Don Jalbert. “These types of learning experiences are an immeasurable value to our students.”