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Culinary students overcome nervousness to cater meal for Adm. Mike Mullen

March 02, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@heraldmail.com
  • Students and instructors from the Franklin County Career and Technology Centers culinary arts program are shown with Adm. Mike Mullen, who visited Chambersburg on Feb. 10.
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Catering a meal fit for the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military started out to be a bit nerve-wracking but turned into the lesson of a lifetime for culinary arts students at Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Colleen Blubaugh of Waynesboro was nervous about serving Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited the Capitol Theatre on Feb. 10 as part of a public-speaking engagement.

"I was in charge of getting all the dining room stuff, so I was pretty nervous trying not to forget anything," Blubaugh said. "It was such a big event. But, then, you calm yourself down, because the more nervous you are, that's when you're prone to mess up, so you have to ignore the nervousness."

She set up the dining room with china and table linens to serve 60 people, including local representatives and dignitaries.

To steady her nerves, Blubaugh tried to remember her culinary training.

"You just treat everybody the same no matter if they are somebody at the bottom or somebody at the top of the ladder," she said.

While several instructors oversaw the catering operation, FCCTC culinary arts instructor Michael Tosten said the students were in charge.

"When we first get something like this put on our plate, the first thing that runs through your mind is, 'This could be overwhelming.' Luckily, just about every time we get involved with something, the kids pleasantly surprise us. They really rose to the occasion with this catering job," Tosten said.

He said about 12 of the culinary arts programs' 30 students participated in the catering event.

"The experience that the students had isn't going to happen everyday. The experience with the senior ranking military, depending on where you're working, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," Tosten said.

Not only did the students successfully prepare and serve the food, they also created the menu, Tosten said.

The first course included seafood chowder, pepper pickled fennel and fingerling potato. The second course included poached chicken on artisan greens, shaved pecorino Romano, roasted beets and baby carrots with winter radish vinaigrette. Guests were served toasted pecan créme brulee and cocoa cookie and butterscotch drizzle for dessert.

"The experience they had was a rarity," Tosten said.

Rhashan Keith of Chambersburg prepped and cooked the food for the affair.

"I was nervous, because they were high up, and I've never really catered for people like that before," Keith said. "But, we did really good."

Todd Mattox of Chambersburg also worked in the kitchen.

While she admitted to burning herself a lot, she said everything went smoothly for the admiral's catering event.

"I was very nervous at first. But, once we got there, the admiral was very outgoing and nice. He wasn't stuck up," Mattox said. "I think we did really well for this kind of event because we've never done an off-campus catering thing before."

"Everything went well," said Sarina Watson of Chambersburg. "It was a team effort; we all helped each other. I'm proud of everyone. We were nervous, but then when we got there, we just went with it and did what we had to do."

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