MODESTO — Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum, uuuuuuuuuuuuuum. Downey High's Culinary Academy luncheon was the best $7 I've spent in a while.
First course: organic greens and pea pods fresh from gardens on the grounds, minimally dressed with a pear lime vinaigrette and paired with pears and walnuts. Served with hot, fresh from the oven yeast rolls.
A plate of little medallions of braised beef and grated zucchini and spinach sat by a mini-mountain of tomato-sauced cous cous for the main course.
Finishing it off was a tiny tower of crisp phyllo strips melded together with whipped cream, dusted with powdered sugar, sitting in a pool of creamy sauce with fresh berries.
Drooling yet? I am, and I'm quite full.
The program is one of many career-focused offerings found in area high schools. Connecting school work with job skills makes sense if you think about it, and statistics show it works to keep kids in school and improve their grades. FFA has proven that for decades. Now that same can do focus, called Career Technical Education spreads from robotics classes to child development to high fashion.
Modesto City Schools invested in the Downey program last year, upgrading its cramped and dated kitchen, and it's paying off in very tasty ways. Bonus points for nervous but devoted service.