When Mountain Pointe students returned from summer break, they walked into a completely upgraded culinary facility. Gone were the old appliances and "home kitchen" setting, replaced by multiple stainless steel gas burners, sinks and coolers and freezers.

The biggest change, one teacher said, to come from the upgraded facilities was the way the curriculum will be implemented from here on out.

Practice with commercial quality appliances will provide students with skills they need to begin a career in the culinary arts.

"The emphasis in instruction was to teach cooking just for yourself," culinary arts teacher Jill Pomazak said. "But now the emphasis is cooking as a profession. It's more relevant. They are using the equipment they are reading about."

Another facet of that preparation is that it is tied in with the Business, Family and Culinary Arts Academy, new this year to the school.

Upon successful completion, students will receive a certificate from the school that says they have experience when and if they apply to work in the restaurant industry.

"Even if they are not going to become chefs, even being a waiter, they will be more familiar and more comfortable around commercial cookware," Pomazak said. "The curriculum is to gear them for both life and career skills."

Student Wilfred Njemanze said he chose culinary arts for his electives because he wants to become a better chef at home.

"I've never worked with equipment like this before and it is giving me the chance to improve my skills when I cook for my family at home," he said.

Currently Culinary Art 1/2 and 3/4 classes take advantage of the new facilities.

Mountain Pointe is one of four schools in the district to have these renovations. Facilities at Corona del Sol, McClintock and Tempe high schools were also completed. Desert Vista and Marcos di Niza are also scheduled to be upgraded in the future.

Each project costs about $500,000, which the district used East Valley Institute of Technology satellite funding to pay for.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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