Culinary arts students cook up recipe book
A sample menu from a newly published Island cookbook, "Kids Love to Cook," might start with "Ants on a Log," followed by some "Penguin Eggs," a "Banana Split Pizza," and "Krispie Kritters," washed down with some "Celebration Punch."
These intriguingly titled recipes and more can be found on the colorful pages of a cookbook created by culinary arts students at the regional high school and Oak Bluffs resident Eleanor Petricone. She not only suggested the idea but also donated the recipes and financed the project to benefit the culinary arts department.
"The money from sales of the cookbooks will be used for a scholarship fund for culinary arts students," said Jeff Rothwell, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) vocational director. "Hopefully there will be money to publish another one, and we'll try to keep it going. It gives the kids and the program some exposure and publicity, and helps those who want to continue their education to get some financial support."
The cookbook features easy recipes for snacks, sweets, and appetizers, enticing children with eye-catching design by Janet Holladay at Tisbury Printer and hunger-inducing color photos by Bob Schellhammer.
"The recipes in the cookbook are geared for very young people with supervision - they are very simple but luscious, all the kinds of things you might do for a party or a sleepover," Ms. Petricone explained.
Copies of the new hardcover cookbooks were hot off the press at Tisbury Printer last week. Ms. Petricone has been making the rounds to talk to Island business owners about selling them. To date, the cookbooks are available for sale at Edgartown Bookstore and the Toy Box in Vineyard Haven for $20.
Ms. Petricone, who is an artist, also plans to sell the cookbooks at the Vineyard Artisans Festival at Grange Hall in West Tisbury on Sundays through June, Thursdays in July, and Sundays in August.
"We're going to see if we can get 500 sold - I'm not young anymore, but this could be my last hurrah," she said with a laugh. "The hardest part for me is to go and sit three or four hours and do nothing at the Grange Hall - I'm not one to just hang - but it's a labor of love."
For Ms. Petricone, the cookbook represents a combination of two of her favorite interests, children and cooking.
"I've been engaged with children all my life and dealt with them as a teacher in one way or another," she said. In her last job, at Boston's Museum of Science, Ms. Petricone ran a program for children and did fundraising for 12 years.
She began visiting the Vineyard 60 years ago. After moving to Oak Bluffs 10 years ago, Ms. Petricone served as Elder Service's site manager for the nutrition program provided at the Tisbury Senior Center. She also volunteered many times to be in charge of children's games at the Harvest Festival at the Ag Hall.
Ms. Petricone said she started working on the cookbook last summer. "I was feeling low because I lost my first boy, Paul Jr., and my husband over the past two years, and I wanted to do something that was worthwhile and giving," she recalled.
"I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if I put this book together for culinary arts students, and try to start a fund for them so when they finish at the high school, they can go on to culinary school."
Chef/instructor Jack O'Malley, who runs the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School culinary arts program, said Ms. Petricone approached him with the cookbook idea and asked if his students could proof the recipes she wanted to use, which were family favorites. He worked on the project with the culinary arts students over the winter and early spring.
"I'm just so amazed to see the cookbook in print," Mr. O'Malley said last week. "Many people come to me with ideas, but Eleanor really followed through, and we're so grateful she did. She's an amazing lady."
Students Zack Maciel, A.J. deBettencourt, and Ben Ferry volunteered to come in on a Saturday and help prepare and arrange the food for Mr. Schellhammer's photo shoot, which took place in the culinary arts dining room at the high school.
"It was fun - we prepared some things ahead, but some had to be made fresh that day, such as the chocolate-covered strawberries and the hot fudge," Mr. O'Malley said. "Eleanor brought in a lot of props, as did the photographer."
As part of the culinary arts program curriculum, Mr. O'Malley discusses possible career options that students might not be aware of, that go beyond being a chef or food establishment manager.
Opportunities in the industry include avenues for other creative people such as food chemists, food photographers, food stylists, and food writers, he points out.
Working on the cookbook photo shoot in the culinary arts dining room provided students with a real life example. "It was nice to work with a photographer and talk with the students about plating food and lighting for photographs," Mr. O'Malley said. "We talked about all the different opportunities in publishing, from photography to writing and editing articles, textbooks and cookbooks."
The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School culinary arts program averages about 40 students a semester. Adding to the program's attractiveness is the fact it is one of only 91 high school programs across the country to be certified by the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC), as of July 2006. The certification validates that the MVRHS program offers quality education and meets or exceeds high standards for culinary arts.