Recently Yosemite High School Culinary Art students visited Tenaya Lodge for a day of baking, making, building and decorating gingerbread houses.
This is the first year Yosemite High culinary students have participated in the gingerbread house workshop, although they have visited Tenaya's culinary department before. Tenaya's sous chef Mario Casarez visits YHS on a regular basis as part of the culinary program.
"They're receptive and work very well with us," Casarez said. "We're trying to give the students real-world cooking experience."
Home economics instructor Dena Boortz said the program -- in its third year -- is a regional occupational program for career exploration that enables students to get a jump-start on a career in hospitality, culinary arts, management, sales and marketing.
Boortz said her students are working at a variety of locations in the culinary business including Erna's Elderberry House, Tenaya Lodge, Crab Cakes Restaurant and La Boulangerie French Bakery & Cafe at Fig Garden Village in Fresno.
Students have also assisted at the Chocolate Festival and at Chamber mixers. Boortz brings guest chef speakers to the classroom and takes the students on a variety of field trips.
One student was so inspired with last year's field trip to Tenaya Lodge that he applied to work there.
"We came on a field trip and I thought it was cool," Allen said. "It was something I wanted to do as a career."
Allen started as a dishwasher and is now a pantry cook making desserts, salads and helping with food preparation for banquets.
Allen plans to go to culinary school after graduation from Yosemite High.
Gingerbread house decorating workshops will be open to the public on the following dates and times: 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17; and 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Reservations required. Details: Concierge Department or call (888) 514-2167 and select Option 3.