More than two years after fire gutted the culinary arts building at Dorsey High School, the Los Angeles-area school unveiled a new state-of-the-art building and commercial-grade kitchen with the help of restaurateur B. Smith and Lawry’s.
During the fire in January 2006, the culinary arts program suffered more than $800,000 in damages to classroom furniture, textbooks and the structure.
At Thursday’s ceremony, the school’s new $1.2 million building was unveiled. It was financed with funding from voter-approved Measures R and Y, and is part of the LAUSD’s $7.7 billion existing facilities modernization and repair program.
Among the renovations to the facility were replacing the roof, installing new doors and windows, as well as putting in a new heating, ventilation and air condition system. A changing room was also added.
The kitchen equipment includes a new hood, and a convection oven and a new steamer both with double the capacity. The facility is also now laid out like a restaurant with cooking items on one half and chairs, tables and open space on the other side.
The unveiling was followed by a cooking demonstration by model-turned restaurant owner B. Smith.
The students who attended, many in their culinary cooking jackets, also got the opportunity to ask Smith about her cooking as well as what inspired her to open a restaurant.
Over the years, the Dorsey High culinary arts programs has been involved in activities such as the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire food village; has sent numerous youngsters to train under chefs at hotels around the city, and have hosted events in their own kitchen.
The culinary program has operated under the guidance of Ervetta Marzette since 1989, and with the addition of the new equipment Marzette intends to have the students develop a baking manufacturing program.
“We’ve done this in the past around Thanksgiving, where we made cakes and pies. Now we want to come up with a product and sell it to some of the restaurants,” explained Marzette.
The new kitchen will also allow Marzette to expand the hospitality program under which last year students actually worked at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the kitchen. Now she intends that they learn a variety of other areas of hotel operations including front desk, housekeeping and reservations.
Marzette said the program will also operate a restaurant that will provide food for faculty members and eventually give students the opportunity to learn to cook in a fine dining atmosphere. Youngsters will also learn how to cater.
And finally, there will eventually be a community component to the culinary program where residents will be able to come in and learn skills such as canning, cooking and baking during the evening and weekend hours.