Gulf Shores High School’s Culinary Arts Program kicked off its guest chef series with Chef Kimberly Asbury, Pastry chef and general manager at Buzzcatz Coffee & Sweets in Orange Beach.
Gulf Shores High School Hospitality and Tourism Career Academy is a window into a world of opportunity after high school. Through this program students can take Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry Arts, as well as a Dual Enrollment basic food prep course that is offered through Coastal Alabama Community College. All classes offer classroom instruction paired with a culinary lab where the students are practicing what they are learning about in lecture.
Chef Kristen Madsen is the Culinary Arts Program instructor which boasts 140 students. The guest chef series brings local chefs into the kitchen classroom to share their experiences in the industry while teaching the students a recipe.
Asbury, the reigning International Biscuit Grand Champion, taught the students the secret to biscuit perfection. Throughout the instructional time, students, teachers and administrators popped in to listen to Asbury as she shared stories from her career and answered questions from the crowd.
“Sixty-hour weeks are totally worth it when I make things and people say, ‘I love Buzzcatz it’s my favorite place to go.’ It took me a long time to figure out that this was a career path that I could follow. I got a late start. I got a job at a restaurant because I needed money and I realized I was really good at it,” Asbury said.
Asbury also shared with the students her experiences competing in culinary competitions. She has competed twice at the World Food Championship as well as the International Biscuit Festival where her Alabama Scotch Egg won her the competition. The students listened as she explained the trial and error process of creating the recipe for the Alabama Scotch Egg.
The pimento cheese biscuits the students helped Asbury make came out of the oven just as the class ended. Students gobbled up the hot biscuits and took a few for the road. Teachers followed their nose to the kitchen and enjoyed a snack between classes.
Asbury’s experience in the culinary competition world tied in nicely with a focus of this year’s culinary program. Madsen plans to prepare the students to compete in culinary competitions this year where they will be competing for scholarship money.
“I feel that in the high schools today, career tech courses are so valuable. Students have the opportunity to experience what it would be like to work in this field prior to leaving the safety of the high school setting. I'm proud that I get to be a part of that,” said Madsen.