BRYAN, Texas — One of the largest industries in need of workers here in Texas is restaurants.
The pandemic forced companies to slash staff – but are now trying to rebuild their ranks to meet demand.
A program offered by Bryan High School is working to fill the gap, by training students for future culinary careers.
Tenika Williams is the culinary instructor at Bryan High School.
“They were extremely excited. I did not think I was going to get as much feedback from the kiddos,” says Tenika Williams, culinary instructor. “I wasn’t sure how they were going to take it but I mean, they jumped in and as much as I would like to take the credit for it, this was all them. I just taught the baking process, and the creativity came from them.”
“I have my own at-home bakery and just being able to bake and teach at the same time, it was just a blessing in disguise, so we brought it here this year,” says Williams.
Williams has taught for 17 years in Bryan and College Station ISD, but this is her first-year teaching culinary and at the high school level.
“I know I had many that did not come into culinary thinking they could do it ... and I will tell you, the groups that win overall, I can promise you they did not think they would be the ones that would win,” says Williams. “Week after week, I watched their growth and I’m super proud of them.”
After a three-week competition, the final five teams competed Thursday morning, but only one team could come out on top.
“It was difficult because people kept on saying we was gone lose but we still had faith that we was still gone win,” says Janiyah Bell, Cupcake Wars winner. “It was just fun making them.”
“I’m a very competitive person,” says Mikayla Brito, Cupcake Wars winner. “I kind of just had hope in everything I’ve been baking but coming into this, it was competitive, but it was fun.”
“We really tried to,” says Andrea Sosa, Cupcake Wars winner. “It was all of us, not just one, just me or just her. We all tried to and we did good.”
Williams says the culinary class brought students out of their shells to explore something new.
“It’s bringing some of them out of that box,” says Williams. “It’s bringing them out of their comfort zone. A lot of the ones you saw that went up, those are my students that don’t talk much in class and to see them blossom the way they did was good.”
The Texas Restaurant Association says the food service industry employs more than one million workers – about 12 percent of our state’s employment.