The Mid-Coast School of Technology Culinary Arts Program has opened its doors to the public.

Renamed the World Cafe, the annual event — now in its 25th year — is open Tuesdays through Thursdays for breakfast and lunch for a minimal fee. This year they have modified their menu to include various cuisines throughout the world.

Chef Instructors Josh Gamage and Carol Pelletier began work on the menu for the eight-week event nearly a month ago.

"The cafe is open to the public from the end of February through April break," Gamage said. Breakfast is served 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. and lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays.

 

Carol Pelletier, a 16-year veteran culinary arts instructor at Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, has been selected at Maine's first Association for Career and Technical Education Fellowship recipient.

The ACTE program is a yearlong program geared toward individuals with a desire to develop their leadership skills and become more familiar with the processes used by policymakers in the development and implementation of laws, regulations and other public policies at the local, state and federal levels. Fellows are responsible for leadership development, public policy and professional development.

“This is an incredible honor,” Pelletier said about her appointment. It allows for training to move up in the culinary career path, she said.

Pelletier attended the ACTE National Policy Seminar March 4-6 in Arlington, Va., where she met with members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

The weekly cuisines started with traditional American foods, such as burgers, pasta, and moved to authentic Mexican dishes the week of March 5-7. The week of March 12-14 will feature Irish dishes in honor of St. Patrick's Day, including homemade corned beef. Other cuisines to be tasted will be from France, Italy, Asia, and closing out with traditional Maine dishes.

The growing program has a total of 60 participants, all juniors and seniors from area high schools.

"The students learn how a restaurant functions," said Gamage, from the culinary techniques and strategies standpoint to the baking and pastry art techniques. A graduate from Rockland District High School himself, Gamage said "we want to see these kids go to school."

"We would have a lot more associate degree students if we had a local community college," Gamage said.

The closest is currently Southern Maine Community College in Portland and  Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.

"Even a Many Flags situation would work," he said explaining many of the students that attend MCST are looking to better prepare themselves for the workforce after high school graduation, knowing they will most likely not be attending college.

The culinary program at MCST is accredited through the American Culinary Federation. That means a student attending the two-year program will become a certified Junior Culinary Specialist and leave the institution with a certification to help with job placement.

Pelletier was recently selected as Maine's first Associate for Career and Technical Education Leadership Fellow. She went to Washington, D.C. to receive the honor which will allow her to receive further training to take the next step in her culinary arts career. Pelletier has been at MCST for 16 years.

Following the World Cafe experience, Gamage and Pelletier work with local businesses to place as many students as possible for summer employment. The Slipway Restaurant in Thomaston, Cafe Miranda and Rock City Cafe in Rockland, Natalie's in Camden, and The Badger Cafe & Pub in Union are just some of the businesses that assist in this effort.

In addition to the cafe, the MCTS culinary program does catering for nonprofit organizations as well.

"Otherwise who would eat all the food?" Gamage said.

The school currently has between eight and 12 programs that are state and national certified, according to Robert Deetjen, MCST student services coordinator.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.