Students in uniform in the culinary arts kitchen holding gourmet sandwiches

Students in instructors David Ginivisian and Paul Piantedosi’s Culinary Arts program are having another outstanding year at Somerville High School. This is what the educators say about the 2023-2024 school year so far.

Approximately 300 ninth grade students are currently enrolled in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Exploratory program. Exploratory provides students a chance to visit each of the 14 CTE programs during 6-day rotations. If students choose to continue in CTE, Exploratory helps them decide the best program for them, based on concrete experiences and their personal goals.

When ninth graders take their turn in the Culinary Arts program rotation, they work on essential skills and expectations. This year, students successfully entered the world of culinary arts through baking, cooking, and general food service skills, all of which are essential for job seekers after graduation. Students prepared an egg and cheese sandwich for themselves and a classmate, made pizza dough, prepared and baked a pizza, breaded and pan-fried chicken fingers and onion rings, and baked homemade cookies.

Tenth grade Culinary Arts students work on fundamental skills they will develop in their last two years. These include measuring techniques, baking methods, ingredient identification, equipment identification, and knife skills. 

Eleventh grade Culinary Arts students work on certifications while learning new skills. Recently, they started to offer breakfast to staff. The Culinary Arts program has a dedicated dining room that has been open to Somerville High School staff for breakfasts and lunches, whenever possible. (The dining room is not currently open to the public.)

Continuing a long-term tradition, Culinary Arts seniors prepare and serve lunch for staff who can pick up or dine in, as schedules allow. Recently, each senior researched and produced a specialty soup recipe to serve to staff.  

Graduating seniors in Culinary Arts build upon the skills they obtained in previous years as they research, plan, and prepare for the extremely popular Heritage Recipe project. For the Heritage Recipe project, each student designs and produces a menu based on their family’s culinary heritage. Students then demonstrate how best to prepare the dish, and discuss the significance of the dish or its role in their culture. And then, the best part, these authentic ethnic menus are shared and sampled by their Culinary Arts peers and are also sold to staff in our dining room. (Above: a student in last year's graduating class presented his well-received pasta dishes in the Haitian tradition.)

Culinary Arts continues to collaborate with community partner Groundwork Somerville (GWS). Seniors in Culinary Arts worked with GWS to put the school garden to rest in the fall by planting garlic and winterizing the garden beds’ soil. (Below: students working this fall.)

Three students work in the Ground Work Somerville garden on an overcast day. They are preparing vegetable beds for winter.

Once per month, Culinary Arts students prepare and serve meals for clients of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. This project offers students opportunities to work on a variety of cooking and baking skills, as well as learn about the business side of catering. 

Through a grant written by one of our community partners, the program received two Flex Farm hydroponic growing units. These units should give students the ability to grow fresh herbs for use in recipes.

Four students qualified for the SkillsUSA district competition that will take place on February 28th. Two students will compete in the Baking competition and two students will compete in the Culinary Arts competition.

The Culinary Arts program continues to innovate and engage its students as it prepares them for careers in several fields. Please visit the Career and Technical Education (CTE) website to learn more about the Culinary Arts program as well as the other CTE programs offered at Somerville High School. 


Chef Ginivisian, Chef Piantedosi, and R. Ronen


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