New Orleans High School Opens the Nation's First Full-Time Culinary Program

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While many high schools offer culinary classes, New Orleans is stepping things up by offering the nation's first full-time culinary program at John McDonogh High School, the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation announced.

According to, the program will accommodate 100 sophomores next fall, and will begin with three weeks of testing at Cafe Reconcile in order to determine the students' committment to the restaurant business. The aspiring chefs will still have to take core academic classes, but their other courses will be in culinary arts, hospitality and management.
The curriculum is still being worked out, but the idea is that students will get early formal training, and not only have the chance to work in a restaurant, but to potentially own one in the future. At John McDonogh and other area schools, many students come from low-income families and have low average test scores, so the program offers the teens a path to success.

"A key result is that our alumni 10, 15 years from now will own restaurants and hotels," said Digger Phelps, a former Notre Dame basketball coach and culinary program supporter. "We will make John McDonogh the No. 1 culinary high school in the country."

What do you think about the culinary arts offering? Do you have anything like this at your school? Would you want to enroll in a chef-in-training program or is the restaurant business not your thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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