The outside of Blackstone Valley Tech was still blanketed in snow from an earlier storm when students and staff transformed the inside of the building into a spring afternoon at Churchill Downs for the school’s largest annual fundraiser.
Students in every Valley Tech program contributed to this year’s 23rd annual Superintendent’s Gourmet Dinner. The “Kentucky Derby” themed event brought the “greatest two minutes in sports” to life by celebrating the food and culture that surrounds the nation’s longest continuously held sporting event.
To transform the high school’s cafeteria into the legendary race track, students in the Painting and Design Technologies program researched the architecture, history and style of the derby. Hours prior to the event, the immense backdrops painted by the students were secured in place by staff and students.
The seven course gourmet menu was created by a team of students and instructors. Students in the Culinary Arts program researched different dishes and ingredients commonly found at the Kentucky Derby, in the city of Louisville as a whole, and in the state of Kentucky in general. Together, students and staff created a menu of authentic southern fare. The guests enjoyed dishes such as shrimp and grits, mint julep sorbet, braised beef short ribs and derby pie.
“The students and staff start prepping anything we can the week of the event because it has to be planned out to the minute,” said Chef Matthew Williams, Culinary Arts Team Leader. “We had about 80 Culinary Arts students who volunteered to serve, cook, work in the bakeshop and clean in the kitchen during the dinner. Altogether, it was about 800 hours of community service, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick thanked the hundreds of Valley Tech parents, supporters, staff, and private partners who attended the event.
“The pageantry, preparation and presentation by our students and technical staff within this event are simply remarkable,” Dr. Fitzpatrick said.
The Superintendent’s Dinner was established to support technology advancement at the school and through the years has supported a number of initiatives to benefit student learning. While a large group of students contributes to the success of each dinner, the key personnel make up the Executive Board in Culinary Arts. Samuel O’Connor of Mendon served as Emcee of the evening.
This year’s Executive Board consisted of General Manager Shea Boultenhouse (Bellingham); Executive Chefs Taylor Nasuti (Upton) and Chris Coley (Upton); Banquet Managers Casie Uhlman (Upton) and Noelle Trail (Milford); Beverage Manager Cam Thomas (Milford); Decorations Facilitators Jake Russian (Milford) and Shannon Kelley (Bellingham); Executive Pastry Chefs Emily Shorey (Northbridge) and Alex Burgess (Northbridge); Garde Manger Meghan Bellacqua (Uxbridge); Photographer and Blogger Julia Graces (Hopedale); and Sous Chefs juniors Sarah Mendes (Blackstone), Gibran Kafal (Northbridge), and Sarah Arnold (Northbridge).