Tasting Diversity: A Culinary Celebration of African American Chefs

Tasting Diversity: A Culinary Celebration of African American Chefs

Through a project that connected Black History Month to their Career & Technical Center (CTC) curriculum, young professionals curated a display of African American chefs spotlighting their contributions to our national cuisine. 

At CTC, English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science are integrated into career and technical programs through lessons that relate to the career area being studied, which makes learning interesting and relevant to the young professionals and fosters academic success. Technical English teacher James McNulty and culinary instructor Elise Macur collaborated on this English language arts project by relating it to the culinary field and also to appreciate the tremendous effect African Americans have had on American cooking and culture. “This is, in my opinion, an overlooked aspect of African American history,” expressed Mr. McNulty.

When asked about their takeaway from the project, Noah Wannamaker, an aspiring young chef from the Saugerties Central School District, shared how impressed he was with Chef Bryan Terry and his talent with a vegan menu. “My mom is a vegan, and I’m inspired to make foods that taste like foods made with dairy, meat, and other animal products. I want to perfect making vegan cookies.” His classmate, Madison Whitaker, also from Saugerties High School, admired Carla Hall for achieving fame outside of the kitchen. 

“Food is one of the most personal expressions of ourselves and our culture. So, exploring what these great chefs offered the industry is a deeper connection to history and their life stories,” explained Macur, who said the lesson also showed her young professionals some of the hard work, grit, and tenacity needed to become accomplished in the field. “Things like education, apprenticeships, job experiences, awards, books, and even the hardships these chefs had to face to get them where they are in life tell a story. I want my young professionals to have a vast understanding of the thousands of pathways this food service industry can offer them.”

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