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Practicing the Art and Joy of Cooking at Ralph J. Bunche High

As they prepared a three course lunch for visiting principals, two of Chef Isenberg’s students shared thoughts on their experience in the Culinary 2 class at Ralph J. Bunche Academy.


Janala Poindexter

Janala Poindexter, 12th Grade

This is an unusual class - how does it work?

At the start of every class Chef gives us instructions of what we're going to do and what time we have to be done by. He lets us know - 15 minutes for this, 30 minutes for this. So we have a step by step of getting all our ingredients out, making sure they're fresh and clean and cut the way they need to be. Each of us has a different station and we have options to choose what we're interested in.


How did you get interested in cooking?

Growing up, I used to be in a kitchen with my Dad and my Grandma all the time. Sadly she passed in 2015. Growing up with her, I used to cook all types of stuff – soul food, regular food and just watching her cook I started to learn a lot.


What made you joined the culinary pathway at Bunche?

I didn’t even know they had a culinary program at Bunche when I started here but it’s a good thing that they do. I joined the culinary pathway because I love food and cooking is an art. It takes time and preparation to do the way it looks on TV but having something to do besides schoolwork is fun. Plus, if you want to work in a restaurant, you get your skills ahead of time instead of going into the kitchen knowing nothing.


What have you learned so far?

Culinary 2 is where it really gets interesting. At that point you can really advance skills and build a cooking family with new people. About two weeks ago we made my favorite dish so far which was risotto. I thought it would be like pasta, but it was really more like rice and it requires a technique. In this class we try to make culinary fun and not just a mission. Cooking is a process and you can't rush it. You may not like it at first and it takes time to come together but once you get into you learn to enjoy it.




Brendan Gomez, 12th Grade 


What is your task for the day?

My task for today is to have the Principals leave happy. Satisfaction is my first goal. Right now I'm cooking lentils, Chef explained to me that they are a part of the legume family which are basically any types of beans.


What made you joined the culinary pathway at Bunche?

This is my first year studying at Bunche, recovering credits and everything is going just how I planned to get back on track. I chose the Culinary Pathway came because I was missing 5 credits at first from electives and decided why not I'll give it a try. I was always interested in learning about culinary and I said I'm just gonna give it my all. 


What have you learned so far?

At first we did a lot of soups like clam chowder and potato leek and beginner techniques of how to cut vegetables and different ways to cook them. You learn by experience too, like when I made the rookie mistake of using sugar instead of salt, that was the worst.

Once you learn the basics it starts becoming an art because you can create your own dishes based on your own style and if you’re making a whole menu you can really get creative. I'm always thinking about how to make something that will catch people's attention and make them say 'wow!' 


Where do you think cooking will take you?

This has given me a great foundation for working in the industry or possibly having my own restaurant one day. Right now, I'd like to get more into poultry and learning more about how to cook meat and experiment with different kind of sauces. Overall I've learned that when it comes to cooking, don't knock it until you try it and keep practicing. If you have persistence, you’ll see improvements.