Sampling possibilities: High schoolers explore careers in culinary

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – High school students got to take a bite into culinary at Mississippi University for Women. This was part of the university’s Culinary Discovery Day on Tuesday.

While most students were hitting the books, others were stirring up recipes.

Over 100 students from eight high schools across the state visited Mississippi University for Women’s state-of-the-art culinary building to get a taste of the career.

“You can be in anything really in the hospitality industry. You can stay in restaurants; you can go into food service. Or if you are more interested in lodging or tourism, a culinary education is a great place to start for all manner of hospitality jobs. But, of course, culinary arts here so restaurants and food are really where our hearts are at,” said Culinary Arts Program Director Tracee Watkins.

The high schoolers were even able to watch a live, hands-on baking demonstration.

Being back on campus brought back memories from when Asya Love-Wynn was a student in the culinary program.

The, now, culinary arts director at Ridgeland High School said her goal for her students was to see the flavor of possibilities.

“Most kids think that you just work in a fast food restaurant or you work in the back of the house. But you get a front-of-the-house experience by being a wait staff, or host, or bar service. With food styling you can work on movie sets, TV sets, or news and style the food that the other chef would show people to cook. There are other options in the culinary world besides just cooking,” said Love-Wynn.

And in the Magnolia state, it’s more than just food.

“Just in total sales in restaurants and food service in the state of Mississippi, in 2022 numbers, it’s almost $6.9 billion in sales. And it’s 11% of our employment in the restaurant and food industry. So, every dollar that you spend eating out, eating at a restaurant, enjoying our food service facilities adds $1.73 to the total state economy,” said Love-Wynn.

The W opened the doors to the new culinary building in 2023.

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