Culinary and baking students at an area technical school now have a renovated restaurant to offer their work to the public.
Upper Bucks County Technical School in Bedminster Township recently reopened its dining room to the public after a renovation upgrade and retrofit. The new restaurant space was part of a larger $23 million campus-wide renovation completed in February, said Bern Wagenseller, executive director for Upper Bucks County Technical School.
Open to the public from noon-1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Rockridge Restaurant provides high school culinary and baking/pastry program students a chance to work in a real-life restaurant environment and serve paying customers, Wagenseller said.
Students prepare, cook, serve and operate front and back-of-house restaurant services while learning industry standards.
Food services occupations have been identified as high priority occupations by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, according to Wagenseller, which means they are in demand, have a high skill level and provide family sustaining wages.
About 40 students are part of the culinary program at the technical school, which consists of students from the Upper Bucks County high schools of Palisades, Pennridge and Quakertown.
Wagenseller said the culinary and baking/pastry chef programs aim to prepare young adults to continue their education or enter the workforce directly after high school graduation.
“After graduation, students typically go on to programs at area community colleges or at top [culinary] schools like Johnson & Wales University or the Culinary Institute of America,” said culinary instructor and chef Tim McGinnis. They also may be already working in restaurants through the school’s co-op program.
McGinnis said the food services industry continues to grow and jobs across all skill levels were available to qualified workers, or to those interested in working hard and learning the ropes.
“Even when the economy is down, people go out to eat, it lifts their spirits,” McGinnis said.l