Senior Showcase 2023

Wide range of menus prepared during Senior Showcase
Posted on 04/18/2023
Emily Day, Dr. Amy Jackson and Shirley Persons.

Several dozen patrons attended the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center’s third annual Senior Showcase on Thursday, March 30, during which students displayed a culmination of techniques learned in the culinary arts program.

Sponsored by Ozark Federal Credit Union, the student-made menus featured Italian, New Orleans Creole and Norwegian cuisine; chicken sandwich concepts; and a food truck theme using potatoes, according to instructor Brandon Moon.

“Students learn what it’s like to be on their feet all day, working in a hot kitchen,” Chef Moon explained. “In the food industry, like many other jobs, they’re moving around, putting in that hard day’s work.”

Seniors of the two-year program create a mock restaurant name, design a menu after researching ingredients and food costs, then prepare the food for the public – while juniors serve as their runners.

The final project evolved from the previous meal-of-the-day series in the Mules Café with hopes that restaurant industry officials will be inclined to participate in the annual event to see what the prospective graduates are capable of, Moon continued. 

“We want to allow students to meet hospitality owners and managers and bridge that gap between job opportunity vs. job fulfillment,” Moon said. He noted that statistically only one out of every three restaurants will make it past its first year.

Some students, however, have no desire to enter the food industry – they are merely interested in learning how to cook, he pointed out. “I feel like they’re getting the skills to help them in whatever job they choose, whether it be lawn service or car sales,” Moon said, “they still need to be able to deal with customer service and time management.”

As a follow-up to the showcase, students were asked to write a reflection paper about the high and low points of the assignment, and what their takeaways were. Rowan Pratt of East Carter, who designed a mock café/diner, stated that his favorite aspect was the planning phase, while his least favorite part turned out to be preparing the actual menu.

“In all honesty, I feel the event was a complete success and that it will prove to be a fruitful experience for all future culinary students,” Rowan wrote. “Furthermore, such an event will become overall easier to manage with the new kitchen and knowledge that the juniors possess.”

Last month, the Board of Education approved a bid from Zoellner Construction out of Perryville to construct the state-of-the-art, 3,240-square-foot Culinary Arts Center on the TCC campus, moving the Mules Café out of the Administrative Building on North Westwood Boulevard.


Cutline: (From left) TCC senior Emily Day describes her hors d'oeuvres to food testers Dr. Amy Jackson and Shirley Persons of the R-I business office.

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