Susan Miller Dorsey High School’s culinary program has made strides over the years, getting students, teachers, and outside organizations involved in the development of the kids and the community.
The school has partnered with marketing agency Deutsch LA to help kids develop a new business initiative and provide students with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of marketing and advertising. This unique social enterprise is designed to empower students through entrepreneurship.
The connection to Deutsch LA began with businessman and philanthropist Neils Cotter and Dorsey’s culinary teacher Sonja Briscoe.
“It started with a friendship between Sonja and me,” Cotter said. “I was amazed by what she has contributed to the school as she is also on the advisory board and she brings people into the school to help the kids, which I have been doing as a teacher for the past five years, teaching the business class once a week.”
“We got about 10 partnerships that allow the culinary program to flourish and be something out of the ordinary, and Neil played a part in helping us even without a background in culinary,” Briscoe said while describing the impact Cotter has made during his time with Dorsey. “He has helped spread the word to the community about what Dorsey is doing, and with his background in business, he has provided students with lessons and knowledge many don’t have.”
Cotter teaches the students how to be entrepreneurs and what it takes to run a business. He thought of working with the culinary students once he purchased his avocado farm and brought the idea to Sonja, who approved of it immediately. Cotter then brought the idea to Deutsch LA as he knew people there and explained the concept of Dorsey having their signature sauce.
Adhemas Batista, chief design officer at Deutsch LA, was more than excited to work with the culinary students and help them market the sauce they were creating.
“We show them how to create a product from scratch, create the identity, and then we provide design directions for the product and packaging,” Bastisa said. “We worked with the kids the same way we work with our clients. We made sure they were immersed in the project by asking them for their ideas and comments on the designs for the bottle. We also taught them how to be a designer and gave them background knowledge of marketing and what careers can come with working in marketing.”
Students Aniya Brown and Juan Morales said the experience was life-changing, and the lessons they learned during this initiative are lessons they can apply to their real life.
“I feel like this initiative has to help me build my confidence and my teamwork skills, among my culinary skills,” Brown said.
“This program changed my life, and looking back before I started the program, I felt like I didn’t have many options, but now I know there are countless opportunities for me in the culinary and business world,” Morales said.
Both students credit their peers within the program and chef Mel Nicola with helping them create and test the many different combinations of sauces until they found the perfect recipe after 300 trials and errors. Briscoe is proud of her students and wants nothing more than to see them prosper in school and after graduation.
“A lot of kids in our program deal with some level of financial insecurity, and this program will help many of them break the cycle of poverty in their families. The program shows them the different careers that can come from culinary,” Briscoe said, noting that the culinary program will thrive once she leaves Dorsey. “I am about five years away from retirement, and I want to make sure this program keeps running and benefiting students the same way or not better once I’m gone.
The Dorsey High School green sauce is in pre-production and will be available at a local Farmer’s Market soon. All proceeds from the green sauce will go back to the students and into culinary and business programs at Dorsey. Also, students will receive help from companies like Zazzle, who will help create all merchandise for the students, like hats, and skateboards, and help create, an online shop for the future. Village Green Foods will provide sauce bottles for the Farmers Market, take students on a virtual tour of their factory, and help perfect the recipe and certifications needed to be able to ship the sauce.
This will allow students to own and profit from the green sauce, make investments, and further the business as they see fit. To find out more information about the Green sauce, please visit https://tinyurl.com/hefp6e5u.