Group Name: Latin Culinary Arts

Adult Leader/s: Joe Ford, with Gerardo Vega from Renaissance CHS of Innovation

Student Members:

TRCS Students: Innovation Students:
Gavriella Arias Abbot, Lenisha
Ashley Bryant Abreu, Reyson
Aaliyah Canty Ayende, Vincent
Justine Castro Baez, Jose
Nicholas Colclough Craddock, Nickaya
Emily Cruz Cruz, Mira
Jasmine Lamb Gibson, Elizabeth
Emmy Liang Granda, Kimberly
Michelle Martinez Grant, Naquan
Jamira Melvin Lugo, Kylup
Isaiah Sanchez Mercado, Elizabeth
Isaiah M Sanchez Millan, Ciasia
Tenzin K. Ukyab Miller, Kierra
Romero, Marivee
Segundo, Wesley
Sanchez, Jessica

Goals and Objectives:
Students will learn the basics of cooking, kitchen sanitation, knife skills and menu-making. Students will be able to plan, buy ingredients and produce a fully cooked meal from scratch for a family. Students will be able to know about proper measuring and putting together ingredients to make nutritional meals. Students will be able to compare and contrast organic and non-organic ingredients, decide cost-effective ways to put together the most nutritious, tasty meals for a family.


Gerardo’s Daily Journal – (Gerardo’s email to Renaissance and Innovation colleagues):
Monday, October 25
I am so thankful and excited about today’s great start. Even though we got there at around 11:00am, Joe and his students had already started on the Guacamole and had the miss-en-place ready for us. Then all students were introduced to each other, and we began our cooking journey. We were able to cook all the recipes and sat down to eat around 2:00. Our kids had a great hands-on experience. They handled knives, cut onions, tomatoes, cilantro, asked great questions, and made their own tacos. Their favorite part was to learn how to make fresh tortilla chips (Totopos). Needless to say, they loved the food. It was as though time flew by, but we pulled it off quite nicely. It took them a while to sort of get into it at first, as they didn’t know each other. But other than that, I am so happy with the results.

Tomorrow, we will be divided into two groups and split between the Media Center and kitchen taking turns with each group in an hourly basis. This will certainly allow for a better flow of activities. Joe and I made the two flans today, and the pernils will be in the oven by the time we arrive tomorrow thanks to Joe. This was a smart move!

I must give Joe a big shout out. He was so helpful, it was like having an Executive Sous Chef with me the entire time. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure.

Have a restful evening everyone,

PS: Joe, do we have a big rice pot for tomorrow’s Arroz con Gandules?

Tuesday, October 22
10:30 am: We arrive at 82nd St Jackson Heights, and just followed the route of the pernil aroma traveling first class in the air all the way to Renaissance. The flans are out of the fridge ready to be turned over, and the kids are split in two groups for various activities going on at once. Those in the kitchen grab a knife and begin cutting potatoes and onions that had been already peeled off destined for potato salad. Classic Cuts and knives skills are reinforced with massive veggie cutting, some kids achieving tacit accuracy.

11:35am: Our kids settle in, go out of the building for a quick snack with their new friends. With the vain empanadas luring them all around, last thing on their minds is eating the school lunch. Upon returning, they seemed as though they’ve known each other from grammar school.

12:35pm: Back in the kitchen, students complete a quick quiz on what they’d learned yesterday, successfully. Joe and I rejoice in hearing them use French cooking terms, remember cooking methods and techniques, name everything correctly in the kitchen.

12:45pm: A codfish batter is prepared for Bacalaitos, which Vincent and Nyesha took full control of over the hot stove. They pass them around to everyone in the room. As they bite in, they grimace mmh expressions. McDonalds is farther than China.

1:00pm: The Hell’s Kitchen frenzy begins. While the Arroz con Gandules is cooking off in the oven, the kids learn how to carve roast pork Buffet style and how to decorate a tray for demanding hotel tourists customers. They learn to make fresh Au Jous off the roast drippings to dress the carved pernil, which they arrange in a bed of Romaine lettuce, chiffonade lettuce and red bell pepper flowers.

1:45pm The rice smells done. Kids clean the table to make room for the buffet. Photographers rush in and out of the scene, as we serve the Caribbean feast. They eat as a family ’til their hearts’ content and have seconds. NaQuan and others reject an extra piece of flan. We clean the kitchen to leave on time. Nickaya’s clan take leftovers home. Joe and I shake hands. We hug. Elizabeth Gibson and Marivee are singing their way back to the train station under an open umbrella.

4:30pm Back at Innovation. I look up to the skies and say, thanks…

Wednesday, October 23
Dear Ms. Singh,

Thank you for the hospitality and professionalism. Our students loved the experience at the International Culinary Center. They were so excited to have been in such a prestigious Institution, home of the greatest Iron Chefs in America. It was all they talked about today. I’m so proud at the way they behaved themselves. The professional kitchen tour imprinted on them a better image of the Culinary Arts field and rekindled in them the passion for our Latin Culinary Art Enrichment Week. I am sure they brought with them great memories from the different kitchen departments, the young culinarians on craft, and especially meeting personally and having had their picture taken with one of your legendary Chefs, Alain Sailhac, who was so kind to us and spoke to our students so wisely about this exciting career choice. We are indebted to you and your colleagues.

Please be sure that you made some fans today who will be speaking very highly of this Institution. Would you please accept a humble Thank you card signed by all of our students? They also enjoyed the homemade cookies and fresh baked olive bread that you kindly shared with them. Stepping into the alma mater of such amazing Iron Chefs from TV of the stature of Bobby Flay left them awe inspired. Needless to say, as a culinary student myself, this was for me also a dream come true.

On behalf of all our students, Staff, School Administration, and our great leaders, Nickolas and Rita Tishuk, we cant thank you enough for allowing us to live this unique educational experience, which was worth your generous time, your thoughtful pre-arrangements, and for allowing us to take so many photos.

As the classic song goes, “In a New York minute, anything can change.”, I am sure our students were very positively impacted by this fairy tale experience.

With sincere gratitude,

Your new friends at,

The Renaissance Charter School High School for Innovation and, our sister school, The Renaissance Charter School

Thursday, October 24
“This was mad fun”, said future Chefs Vincent Allende and Nickaya Craddock, when the clock stroke 11:30am, after the two rival teams from Innovation and Renaissance battled against each other for a cruel 45 minute time pressure valve on what was worthy of the Food Network’s best rivalries.

The two teams, let lose like angry bulls in Buñol, Pamplona, by the least elite and most underrated Chefs in America (Joe and Gerardo), tested their speed, artistry, and creativity, as they competed to earn a trip to a Spanish restaurant in East Harlem and Jackson Heights tomorrow afternoon, respectively.

Both teams managed to cut the ingredients, read the recipe instructions, cook, bake, and garnish their Spanish Tortillas right on time. Thirty minutes later, the Cluster leaders announced the winner: an unequivocal tie between sister schools. The Judges tasted their students’ Latin creations in the various categories: Doneness, Team Work, Presentation. The verdict was unbiased and non-partisan: “There’s no scrappy, underdog recipe here”. Both Tortillas had to be cut up immediately after footage, as both teams, including the Chef-Judges, were, to say the least, drooling for a bite before the tableful display of Spanish Tapas.

Etiquette skills discussed this morning were slightly forgotten, as the festival of colors and flavors -recreate of the best of Madrid’s Spanish Tascas-, betrayed our humble intentions to maintain table manners on pecking eyes and empty stomachs.