More than 400 William Penn high school students are preparing for careers in the food services industry – and they happen to be doing it in a new, state-of-the-art, restaurant style kitchen that cranks out delicious meals for paying customers every day.
In fact, the large-scale effort of our talented students and culinary program has not gone unnoticed. Most recently, we catered The Inaugural Ball for Delaware’s Governor Markell. And we have catered a number of charity events, such as Taste for Art, The Christmas Shop Foundation’s “The Perfect Gift,” the Saint Francis Foundation, and Preston’s March for Energy. Working events is one of the best ways for our students to understand the true restaurant and hospitality industry.
Our kitchen was designed with cutting edge culinary organization and consists of top-of-the-line ranges and cooktops, modular cooktops and ovens, dedicated task stations, high-efficiency refrigeration, functional ventilation, and flexible appliances.
Have you ever seen a SmartBoard in a kitchen? Well, we have it. We are also are a part of the Modernist Cuisine collection that teaches students the science of cooking using a wide array of industrial equipment such as sous vide thermal circulators, anti-griddles, and vacuum sealers. And the best thing about all of this fancy equipment is that our students use them with ease!
But our professional kitchen wouldn’t be much without a proper serving venue for our students. The Penn Bistro is open daily from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, where we serve delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and weekly specials. And Penn Bistro Catering can create food for just about any occasion. We take steps to ensure that each guest receives professional and courteous service.
Across the United States there is increasing awareness that school gardens can play a crucial role in the learning process and contribute to improved student health. Most of our healthy menu options are made with local ingredients to ensure freshness and great taste. The William Penn High School “Farm-to-School Garden” utilizes approximately four acres of New Castle’s historic Penn Farm to generate produce for the Culinary program and Bistro. The project utilizes sustainable farming practices with an emphasis on organic farming methods. And some of our produce is grown locally by the William Penn Agriculture students at Penn Farm, located adjacent to the high school.
With 420 students enrolled in the culinary program, our three instructors have their work cut out for them. It all works because we base our menus and dishes around a curriculum. In fact, William Penn is one of the few high schools in Delaware to offer the nationwide, two-year ProStart curriculum. Students have the ability to apply for different certifications and walk out of this program with culinary college credits. And some of our graduates will become successful leaders in the hospitality and restaurant management industries.
The William Penn Culinary Arts program is something that students are proud to be a part of. Our students strive to provide the school and the community with the best service and food around.
Chef Kip Poole is the lead Culinary Arts Instructor at William Penn High School in WIlmington. Since graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Restaurant and Hospitality Management, Chef Poole has worked at Disney World, Philadelphia Country Club, Harry’s Savoy and Harry’s Seafood. He later received his Masters in Education.