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Penta Career Center student chefs return to the kitchen to craft Irish inspired take-out meals

Penta Culinary students served over 200 hundred “Jiggs” takeout dinners this St. Patrick’s Day
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 6:42 PM EDT
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PERRYSBURG, Ohio (WTVG) - Something special is cooking up at the Penta Career Center.

This week Penta students made their return to in-person classes 4 days a week. After a year-long hiatus, Penta Career culinary students made their triumphant return to the kitchen to craft meals for the public this St. Patrick’s Day.

“It’s defiantly an experience,” said senior Phoenix Rogers. “It kind of feels like... you know how a beehive is? It’s kind of like multiple different worker bees trying to communicate and work together, and sometimes they bump into each other and sometimes they’re screaming get out of the way.”

Due to the pandemic, the school’s restaurant that’s normally open to the public remain’s closed indefinitely. Culinary instructors say they still want their students to learn and conquer the in’s and outside of the restaurant industry, with or without a dining space. To keep students and staff safe, crews are now going to their customers.

“Curbside is not going away,” said Culinary Instructor Janea Makowski. “I think a lot of restaurants do a lot more curbside service and this is really our first opportunity to do that for our outside guests.”

Head Chef and instructor Makowski is teaching her students the meat and potatoes of the take-out business this St. Patrick’s Day. Students are slow roasting meaty mounds of corned beef and steaming pans of cabbage, before placing the Irish-inspired dishes inside to-go boxes. Students hand-delivered the meals to customers inside their cars as they pulled up to the front of the Penta building. Makowski says the takeout meals sold out after a record turnout.

Penta culinary students and staff say it took weeks to plan their "Jiggs" take-out meal....
Penta culinary students and staff say it took weeks to plan their "Jiggs" take-out meal. Kitchen staff say they brimmed the corned beef for 7 days and slow-cooked their cabbage.(Jack Bassett)

“We knew we would sell some dinners to the public, but we sold 100 dinners within 2 hours of opening up the sale,” said Makowski.

This is the first time Penta has offered to-go meals on a holiday, but cooking staff say it won’t be the last. Penta staff believe by offering takeout meals it gives students the opportunity to learn how to navigate the new normal in the service industry, while still being able to make an impact on those that they serve.

“I really enjoy having conversations with the people who come through,” said Phoenix Rogers. “Because even if it’s just a two-minute hi how are you, you can still get a lot out of that interaction and make people so happy.”

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