Mar 23, 2011 6:03 AM by Nichole Larkey & AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A New Orleans high school already famous for turning out budding musicians, dancers and painters will soon be graduating another kind of artist - one who is creative at the stove and chopping block.
Renowned chef Emeril Lagasse and other chefs were planning to attend a ribbon cutting Tuesday at The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts honoring its new four-year program in culinary arts. Lagasse and his foundation are the lead backers of the program.
Although the program officially begins in the fall when 31 students will be matched with master chefs, 18 students will kick off a summer program.
"That's a great size for a NOCCA program - especially for one that's brand new," NOCCA spokesman Richard Read said Tuesday.
"Our bigger programs, like Musical Theatre, have upwards of 60
students, but there are much smaller programs, too, like Theatre
Design and Creative Writing."
Students in the program, just like all of the students at the
school, had to audition for their spots. This year the auditions
consisted of an essay on why the student wanted to be a chef and an
interview to find out the level of interest and experience he or
"We wanted to see if they really wanted to be a chef of if they
just liked what they saw on TV," said chef Dana D'Anzi Tuohy, who
will run the program. "Real life for chefs is nothing like it is
Tuohy has 17 years' experience in the food service business,
most recently as the culinary director of Lagasse's four Las Vegas
Johnson & Wales University, noted for its culinary program,
wrote the four-year curriculum for high school students. They will
study not only cooking, but food safety, nutrition, finding fresh
products, the basics of how to conduct purchasing, what things
cost, and math skills for such things as increasing or decreasing
recipes and business matters, Tuohy said.
The students will also have the advantage of working with master
"The resource is so huge in New Orleans," Tuohy said. "We
have so many people to draw from."
Chef Frank Brigtsen, who was named the 1998 Best Chef: Southeast
by James Beard, will be the Master Chef in residence.
"I don't know of any other high school program that offers a
program like this," Tuohy said. "It will give these kids a
wonderful leg up in the business."
The kitchen at the school is set up like a professional kitchen,
not a classroom, to give the students a real-life experience, she
said. It may also change the way future auditions are conducted for
entry into the program.
"We didn't have the kitchen for the first auditions," Tuohy
said. "I can see us holding auditions there in the future."