Culinary Arts & Hospitality Academy

High School Inc.'s  Culinary Arts & Hospitality Academy's main focus is to prepare students for a career in these industries.  Students begin training in their sophomore year and continue until graduation to learn and demonstrate proficiency in food handling and safety, knife skills and the operation of a fully equipped commercial kitchen.  Through a combination of hands-on training with Guest Chefs (Business Advisors), industry-specific curriculum and field trips to local restaurant suppliers such as Sysco, students begin to develop a broad picture of the many careers available in the field.  

This academy uses PROSTART curriculum and others endorsed by the California Restaurant Association Education Foundation, designed to prepare students to work in the fast-paced restaurant industry. 

In all three years in this Academy, students are encouraged to participate in one of two team competitions - PROSTART and Cooking Up Change.  Both competitions promote critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and other soft skills that are reinforced as a part of this Academy's objectives.  As members of a small competitive team, students learn to work together to develop a delicious meal then prepare it under the scrutiny of top industry professional judges.

Students must polish their communication and presentation skills to be successful in these regional and national competitions and they are required to defend their choices of raw materials, methods of preparation, and safe and sanitary food handling.  The PROSTART competition also allows Academy students to compete in the area of management. 

Throughout the school year, all students who participate in High School Inc. take part in many events actually catered by the Culinary Arts Academy; including a full Thanksgiving meal for over three hundred staff, students and business partners.   To further reinforce the business side of cooking, this Academy is currently developing a full-fledged catering business that will provide healthy and delicious lunches to the faculty and staff at Valley High School.


FIVE TIME National Champions - Cooking Up Change

For the sixth year in a row, High School Inc.’s Culinary Arts Academy students achieved first and or second place in Orange County’s “Cooking Up Change” competition – and the students hit the road to Washington, DC once again in the Spring of 2016! With extraordinary amount of dedication and teamwork from students -- and support from Valley High School teachers, Culinary Arts Academy Chefs and Business Partners, Santa Ana Unified School District Board and High School Inc. Foundation -- this outstanding award was made possible for a fifth time.

High School Inc.‘s first place team, the only all-female team to ever win nationally,  traveled to Washington, DC to compete against winners from eleven other regional competitions, accompanied by the student’s Culinary Arts Teacher and volunteer Culinary Academy Chefs. The most recent event was hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in June of 2016.

Once there, our students also attended a special briefing on Capitol Hill as they presented the healthy school lunch they created through their curricula/competition. This contest challenges students to master a healthy, great-tasting school meal; that must meet high nutrition standards and include ingredients commonly used by school food service.  The students also spoke at a professional briefing and shared their experience in Cooking up Change as well as their perspective on the importance of healthy school food.

One dish from each team’s meal was served at the Congressional briefing – “The Future of School Food” – and our winning dish was then made available in the cafeteria that serves Congressional leaders and their staff as well as in schools across the nation.