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Students in Culinary Arts Program Re-Imagine Turducken at Holiday Feast

Culinary arts students prepare luncheon for entire campus

Students and staff at Branford’s Springfield, MA, campus were treated to a holiday feast earlier this month, as the culinary arts students practiced their banquet skills.

While the menu contained many traditional holiday favorites, the culinary arts students were also happy to have a chance to show off their creativity. The highlight of the meal: a new take on turducken.

“Turducken is usually turkey, duck and chicken,” explained Chef Toni Lambert, Director of Branford’s Culinary Program. “Instead we did it with turkey, chicken, and quail.”

Luncheon guests were also treated to several different versions of roast turkey, three types of stuffing, including cornbread, sausage, and cranberry, multiple side dishes, and a wide array of desserts.

A Group Effort

Sixty culinary students, supervised by six chefs, worked together to create the meal that served 160 people.

Lambert said that dividing the work among the students was pretty straightforward. “Everybody had a specific role. We have a meats class, so those students were in charge of the turkey. The vegetable class was in charge of the sides. Our health cooking class made several dishes. The bakeshop class did the rolls and the dessert class handled the desserts.

“We also have a front-of-the-house class, and those students were in charge of setting up the room and decorating,” she added.

Other highlights of the meal included Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, brown rice pilaf, roasted butternut squash, fresh Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, and a white bean salad. Desserts included homemade cookies, carrot cake, and cupcakes.

Training Pays Off

“The students did very well,” Lambert said. “They took everything they have been taught and put it all together. It was a well-oiled machine.”

She pointed out that the holiday celebration not only provided an opportunity to celebrate with the school community, it also allowed the culinary arts program students to practice their skills on a large crowd. “This was the first time we’ve done the luncheon for the whole school. We don’t normally get to do quantity cooking at this level,” Lambert explained. “Usually we only have 40-50 people. Everyone was really excited and very proud of what they did.”

From the staff perspective, the event provided a window into what the students had learned. “The students really pulled this one off,” said Lambert. “They all knew exactly what they were doing. It was particularly rewarding to me, because I could see where all their hard work paid off.”

Read more about Branford Hall’s Culinary Arts Program.