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Amelia Islander

Project Pirate CAFE a Success

May 29, 2015 02:00AM
Chef Michael Gass, culinary arts teacher at Fernandina Beach High school, introduced a new program at the school this year, called Project Pirate CAFÉ. CAFÉ stands for Culinary Arts Farming Education, teaching students to grow their own food, and then instructing them how to cook and serve that food. “The farm-to-table concept was begun by Alice Waters in California over 30 years ago. This is not a trend,” says Gass. “This is the gold standard of restaurants and food service, and today’s students are learning how to do it properly.”

Each class was assigned two 4x16 foot gardens (a total of 12 for six classes) where they grew their own vegetables. “After harvesting our tomatoes, for example, we would prepare marinara sauce in culinary lab, and then cook spaghetti,” says Gass. “The students learn full circle the entire process of farm-to-table.” Gass is now working on creating a courtyard and open air kitchen for next year’s school year, where students and teachers can hold sports banquets, meetings, and open air classes, catered by his culinary students and their farm-to-table produce. The group participated in One Spark this year, and Gass expects that his vision will come to fruition by 2016.