Made from scratch

Jennifer Grause demonstrates how to use a scale in her Foods and Nutrition class. The students made Halloween Oreo pudding cups to practice measuring ingredients. Jennifer often takes photos to post on Instagram so that the community can see what her class is doing. Students also get to add each recipe they make to their own recipe book to keep after taking the class.

In just four years, culinary arts has taken off as one of the most popular classes at Harrison County High School. It is launching students on career paths and even spun off a catering business that supports the program. Jennifer Grause, 27, made it all from scratch.

“She doesn’t do it to just teach, she creates relationships. I’ve never known anyone who doesn’t like her. She’s like everyone’s friend, everyone’s mother. There are people who have never had her who still love her, who say that she is the best teacher. It’s why I have her five times a day,” says Jazmine Alistock, 17, a senior, who takes both culinary classes and a money skills class and serves as a student aide.

Jennifer teaches family consumer science. Last year she started Culinary 1,   designed to expand upon the skills students learned in Foods and Nutrition. “One of the reasons I started this class was because I had so many students who wanted to be chefs, but didn’t really know what they were doing,” Jennifer says.

This year she started the Culinary 2 class. Christine Garnett, 37, a math and computer science teacher,  says, “We need stuff like that. Not every kid is going to go to college. They need to be exposed to multiple disciplines so they realize they have lots of options. We need to get away from the stigma of ‘oh it’s just food or it’s just learning how to cook.’ Like, they can use the skills now. They can go out and get a job or have a career.”

Six of Jennifer’s students want to go to culinary school, two are currently accepted. The culinary courses are part of the new Family Consumer Science Pathways Program that Jennifer established last year. A pathways program is designed to prepare students for a career-ready field.

Jennifer's culinary program is completely self funded, using only money that the students raise doing catering work that is required for both culinary classes. Every semester students must complete eight to twelve hours of catering outside of school.

The culinary classes have quickly become some of the most popular in the school. “I have a waiting list, I turn people away every year,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer Grause shows Star Gallagher,17, how thick the group's biscuit dough should be during a Culinary 1 class. The students are begining a unit on mother sauces, the five main sauces used in culinary arts centered around French cuisine.
Lewis Caudill, 17, jokes with Jennifer during Culinary 2 class. Lewis is accepted into a culinary school for this fall.
Jennifer often tests the recipes she has her students prepare, such as tonight's mac-and-cheese. Garth applauds the work Jennifer is doing for her students. "The fact that she is teaching them useful life skills and a career path is pretty cool."
Jennifer greets her husband, Garth Grause, 28, after coming home from work. Jennifer is often at school from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. She prepares ingredients for her classes when the students are not there. After school she prepares the classroom for the next day or if the culinary classes have a catering event she will aid students in preparing.
Jennifer wakes up at 4:30 every morning to go to the gym with Christine Garnett, 37, a math and computer science teacher at Harrison County High School. "If it wasn't for my friend Christine, I would not be getting up so early. We're each other's motivation. I’ve contemplated having a home gym just so I don’t have to drive in so early in the morning, but honestly it's really nice to be with other people there. You don't want to let someone down who's going to be there," Jennifer says.
Jennifer dresses at school after working out because it's quicker than driving to Lexington where she lives. This provides her with more time to prepare materials for her class. "No matter how prepared we are it's challenging to get everything done," Jennifer says. She currently measures out most of the ingredients that her students need to use to cut the time they need to prepare a dish. She is pushing for the culinary classes to be two periods long to allow students enough time to complete recipes as well as clean up.
Jazmine Alistock, 17, is a teacher's aide to Jennifer in the Food and Nutrition class as well as taking both of her culinary classes. "She's definitely a mother figure. I've had my days where I sat in here and balled my eyes out. It only happened twice, but she was there the whole time," Jazmine says.
Jennifer shops during her lunch period three times a week to buy supplies for her classes. "I think it's fantastic because it teaches young people the basics of cooking. There are a lot of people who come through who don't even know how to boil water," said Benjamin Merriman, 17.
Jennifer requires all of her culinary students to complete eight to 12 hours of catering outside of normal school hours. Local places often call her because her class is one of only a few catering places in the area. Jazmine Aistock, 17 says, "A lot of the students are taking all three classes beacuse they just decided they wanted this to be a career pathway." The Culinary 1 class started last year, and Jennifer just added the Culinary 2 class this year. Currently Jennifer has two students accepted into culinary school and three others who have applied.