Culinary Students

September 28, 2023

LANCASTER, Texas -- It's not every day you see student chefs catering to the VIP guests in the press box at a Friday night football game. But that's exactly what happens during Friday night home games at Lancaster High School. Students from the LHS culinary arts program prepare and serve the evening meal for pressbox visitors.

"The students are used to catering and serving, but to serve distinguished guests, including the superintendent, is a big honor," said Chef LaTina Dawn, head of the Lancaster High School culinary arts program. "I am thrilled to be able to provide them with this experience. And for them to be able to do this type of work at their school is amazing."

Chef Dawn, known as Chef D, says it was a fortunate mixup that led to the students being called into action to prepare the dinner during the Lancaster Tigers' first home football game on Friday, September 8. After doing a fantastic job during the game, the students were asked to cater the remainder of the home games for the season.

"The first event was great, and it worked out perfectly. We couldn't wait for the next home game to showcase our skills again," said Dawn.

For the September 22 home game, the students successfully rose to the challenge. They created a menu that included mouth-watering chicken and beef fajitas, chips, salsa, queso, a refreshing salad, and a variety of cookies for dessert. The week of each home game, the students meet and discuss their plans for the menu. 

Senior Adriana Armstrong says she was nervous entering the press box the first time, but the nerves shifted to excitement once things got underway. 

"The first home game was my first time catering, but Chef D and the other students made it easy to get started," said Armstrong. "The one thing I definitely wasn't nervous about was the cooking part. I've been cooking with my grandmother since I was little, so this experience brings back memories of being in the kitchen with her."

Armstrong says the catering gig has also helped with her communication skills and understanding the importance of teamwork.

The students say this is an amazing opportunity to get professional catering and serving exposure while still in school.

Junior Martoya Walker says the job is not only providing her with catering experience but also helping her come out of her shell.

"If I weren't catering the games, I would probably be at home," said Walker with a smile. "So I love meeting new people and making new friends. It makes all of our hard work worth it, and it's more rewarding because we're doing it with our friends."

The students' catering of the home games is proving to be a huge success, with the pressbox VIPs raving about the quality of the food and the service provided by the culinary students. Many were impressed by the students' professionalism and attention to detail.

Dawn says her favorite part of the catering is seeing the students' reactions when their meal or the quality of service is complimented.

"The feeling is indescribable when I see their faces light up after someone tells them 'job well done,'" said Dawn. "They are always so proud of themselves, and I want them to always know what that feels like."

These talented young chefs have a bright future in the culinary industry. Lancaster ISD is proud to offer a robust culinary arts program that prepares students for real-world challenges and scenarios through hands-on learning and opportunities.