Culinary program pairs high school students with campus chefs for job training
For the third year, local high school students are trying their hands at culinary arts in Liberty University’s dining facilities as part of the Sodexo Culinary Internship Program.
The weeklong camp is sponsored by Sodexo, Liberty’s dining services provider, as well as Central Virginia Community College and Campbell County Technical Center. The program gives local students a head start in a career in culinary science.
Throughout the week, the students are working alongside Sodexo’s executive chefs and team members in a variety of areas at some of Liberty’s award-winning dining facilities.
“This program is a huge step up into the workforce and a pipeline source for Sodexo employees,” said Senior Resident Dining Executive Chef Michael Lowe. “It’s a continuation of a time-honored tradition of chefs teaching new chefs through apprenticeship.”
On Tuesday, students were hard at work in the bake shop at the Food Court at Reber-Thomas making their own bread from scratch. Executive Pastry Chef Audrey Dobson-Maliangos walked them through step-by-step on how to create the perfect dough.
“You want it smooth,” she said as she molded the dough into place.
Working with the next generation of chefs in a program like this is a great way for them to see if this is a career they want to continue to pursue, Dobson-Maliangos said.
“It’s hard work. Every day we serve people and have a passion for what we do. You can’t go half-hearted into it because people expect us to give them our best every day, and we want to do that.”
She said she loves being able to show what she’s learned over the years in the industry and what having a passion for preparing food really means.
“The way that the industry is changing, there’s a lot of fast food and everyone wants everything quick,” she said. “But I want to see the culture change where everyone is taking their time sitting down enjoying a meal, a meal that is well-executed and not just thrown at you.”
Brookville High School rising senior Lucas Botham said he has loved being part of the program.
“I think it’s really fun to work with food,” he said. “Being involved with Sodexo and everything they can teach us with different tips and helpful knowledge just sets us up for the future for different jobs (within the industry).”
During the summer, Liberty hosts a wide variety of camps and programs for youth in the local community. This week, the School of Visual and Performing Arts is holding its annual Liberty University Theatre Camps (LUTC) for elementary and middle school students. Other camps include the GenCyber camp (hosted by the School of Business) and a nursing camp, sponsored by the School of Nursing. A complete list of summer camps can be found on the website.