Cooking Up Culinary Careers at Woodville-Tompkins

Cooking Up Culinary Careers at Woodville-Tompkins (Image 1)

Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School is home to one of the most popular career path programs in Chatham County- the culinary arts. High school students with an interest in the kitchen, beyond just eating, sign up early to join the program.

This is no home economics class of old. It features a full-sized, commercial kitchen as the hands on classroom. There is also a working chef as the instructor.  

Alfred McGuire, the principal of Woodville-Tompkins, says there is a big misconception in the community that students have to physically live near the school to sign up for their programs.  “Students can apply. We have students from all over the Savannah-Chatham County area. They come here to the school. In addition to that, we also have students from the various high schools in the Savannah-Chatham County area who come here. So, if a student at another high school… public high school here in the area… they can also apply to come here to Woodville-Tompkins.”

Every program Woodville-Tompkins offers can lead to college, but many offer certifications and licenses that allow students to go right to work when they complete the programs.  

The culinary arts program involves much more than cooking. Students learn that a career in the kitchen takes a lot more than the talent to tantalize taste buds. There are 43 high school students from across Chatham County who are enrolled in one of the hottest careers today: culinary arts.  

The flames of popularity are fanned by a television network and their legion of foodies who look for what’s new, now, and next for their palates.  

Chef Carl Bosier says, ” Because of the Food Network it has opened up a whole new uh variety of jobs…created positions for a lot of the students in culinary…not just in this program but across the country.”    He brings real world experience to table in this kitchen. Bosier also serves as the banquet chef for one of the finest hotels in Savannah. Bosier says food service is an industry that reaches beyond restaurants, it can play a key role in the healing process.  ” I have some students that work in hospital settings in the dietary… where they’re actually working with the different special needs of the patients.”  Bosier adds there are many lessons that focus on the business side to running a restaurant.   “They actually see that it’s more than just eating. We go through the math, making sure that they have the proper revenues, the profit that they need in order to run a restaurant.”  

Students like senior Jzavier Moore say the Culinary Arts program at Woodville-Tompkins is eye-opening. Moore says Chef Bosier doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that running a restaurant can put a person in a pressure cooker. “There’s a lot of work to it. Not only with you being the owner yourself, if you’re going to be the owner AND the chef, not only do you have to work food service, but you have to work the food and beverage. You have to work the hiring agency. You have to work all that. Human resources. You got to find everything to run that restaurant.”  

Chef Bosier says about two-thirds of those who applying to the program start with the wrong idea of where this career path really leads. “I like to categorize them. The serious ones that want to go into the industry, the cookie-makers, and then the ones that want to eat. Fortunately for this program, because it’s a hard program at times, the reputation is don’t come in here to be a cookie baker or just to eat because it’s not going to work very well.”  

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