Cooking With Class

Soon, Dallas students can learn the restaurant biz in school

Hail the new celebrity class: chefs, sous, de cuisines, sauciers, prep cooks--maybe even dishwashers if they can lip sync. They may not get paid like 50 Cent, or have Dimebag-like memorial services when they bite the grease trap, but that's because the blizzard of recipe rap CDs and videos hasn't hit yet. They're coming, though. Dallas kids will demand it. "These kids are all watching the Food Network," says Tracey Evers, executive director of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association. "The chefs are the new superstars. They want to be chefs."

To get in on the ground floor of this teen dream, the GDRA in conjunction with the Texas Restaurant Association and the Dallas Independent School District is quietly slipping an Outback Steakhouse into the Emmett J. Conrad High School when it opens at Fair Oaks Avenue and Ridgecrest Road--a site that was home to a strip mall and dilapidated apartments before the whole lot was razed a couple of months ago--in 2006. And though there may be some trading of Twinkies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for rib eyes and creamed spinach, the goal of the project is to cultivate a culinary entrepreneurial itch. The project is part of the TRA's Education Foundation Entrepreneur 101 program, which teaches kids how to cook, manage food service operations and run their own businesses. E-101, as it is called, currently operates in Westside High School (Outback Steakhouse) in Houston and Del Valle High School (Carmelo's Italian Restaurant) in Austin. Several more are planned in high schools across the state. "This is so far beyond home ec," Evers says.


Recently the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of laws in Michigan and New York prohibiting direct wine shipments to consumers from out-of-state wineries. The court considered a narrow question: Can a state permit its own in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers but ban direct consumer shipments from out-of-state wineries without running afoul of the Constitution? Listening to the banter was a court packed with wine notables such as Dennis Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars, Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke of Kendall-Jackson and W. Reed Foster of Ravenswood Winery. You can download a transcript of the 60-minute argument at www.coalitionforfreetrade.org. A final ruling is expected in May or June. In the meantime pair the scripted legal hash with a heady glass of Robert Talbott Case Pinot Noir, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard ($45). This drink is rich, dark and ripe with bing cherry, sweat and tobacco mingled in hints of barnyard mulch offset with a little spice. The finish grips and hangs on for the long haul, just like good mulch does.
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