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Food & Finance High School: 7 Amazing Things you won't Find in your Average High School

Wednesday, July 02, 2014  
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The NYC Chapter Board of Directors and guests had the opportunity to hold their monthly board meeting at Food and Finance High School, located on West 50th in Manhattan. During the visit the school’s Principal and founder, Roger Turgeon, spoke about the school’s involvement in the ProStart Program, gave a tour of the campus, and served delicious student-cooked food. If the name didn’t already give it away, this is not an ordinary high school.

Food and Finance High School is one of the most progressive culinary high schools in the city, providing an unparalleled student experience. There is little doubt these students will be the NYC culinary leaders of tomorrow. This is what you need to know about the program, and how industry professionals can get involved:


1) Overview and Mission:
As one of the top NYC high schools specializing in the Culinary Arts, it is an extremely popular program for students entering high school—the school received 3,200 applications last admission cycle. They offer an academically challenging Career and Technical Education program focusing on the culinary arts and finance. Students still graduate with a Regents diploma, but much of the curriculum is filtered through a food-centric lens. Program highlights include cooking, baking, food and culture, food-related financial management, computer technology, internships, ServSafe, New York City Food Handlers Certification and ProStart Certification. Technology is integrated throughout the school curriculum, including growing fresh produce through hydroponics and an aquaponics fish farm (but more on that later!).


2) Food and Finance is partnered with Cornell University—bringing the latest in food-related technology right to the campus:
The Cornell Cooperative Extension program has become a core component of the Food and Finance curriculum. Student interns work 4-8 hours a week with Cornell scientist Dr. Philson Warner, in professional science and research laboratories focusing on the production of clean, fresh, and sustainable food. 

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3) Students learn the importance of sustainability and pioneer important Aquaculture & Hydroponic technologies

Through the advanced and unique technology employed at Food and Finance, the student interns are able to work alongside Dr. Warner, to raise thousands of fish in the quickest and cleanest way possible. There are currently over 10,000 Tilapia in their aquaculture lab. These fish are then used by the students to cook healthy meals for their cafeteria and catering events.

By utilizing a hydroponic system, the school is able to produce a great deal of its own produce. They currently grow nine different types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and a variety of herbs. The produce is used by students for in-school culinary programs, catering events, donated to hunger relief organizations, distributed at greenmarkets, and sold to local businesses.

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4) Students hone their culinary chops by participating in ProStart Program, which is run by The New York State Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NYSRAEF).
The ProStart program is a nationwide high school program that unites the classroom and industry to enable students to develop the culinary and managerial skills necessary to build a successful career in the hospitality industry. At Food and Finance, all students are enrolled in the ProStart Program during the11th and 12th grade. Select students also have the opportunity to participate in the New York State ProStart Invitational-the state’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.  


5) Students cook in state of the art facilities that are continuing to expand
The facilities at this school are state of the art. Each kitchen is shiny and new, filled with students that are eager to put them to good use. One of the most note-worthy parts of campus is the detention center turned soon-to-open Café. The fact that the administration sees more use for the space as a commercial cafe than a discipline center is testament enough to the merits of the school. It is still in the construction stages but soon enough, Food and Finance cuisine will be available to the public a la carte! 

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6) The Board of Directors is a who’s who in the NYC Culinary world

Names are important in the food world, especially for a school that relies heavily on donations to fund their budget. The Food and Finance Industry Advisory Board has some very heavy hitters looking out for the well-being of the school; including, Marc Murphy, Ted Allen, Andrew Carmellini, and Alex Guaranaschelli to name a few. These chefs know the importance of nurturing the next generation of great chefs and consistently take time out of their schedule to help to school continue to succeed.

7) Getting involved
Have we inspired you to get involved yet? Different opportunities to get involved with Food & Finance High School and ProStart program include internships, mentor programs, participating as a judge or volunteer at the NYS ProStart Invitational, guest speaking, hosting a restaurant tour, donating to the NYSRAEF, and more. Please contact Elizabeth Soscia, Education Coordinator for the NYSRAEF, at 800-452-5212 or, for more information.

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