On Wednesday, December 15th, the Fort Pierce Central High School Culinary Department provided staff with a four-star dining experience. This year’s holiday banquet was a warm and innovative celebration in the Cobra Café. As staff walked through the doors of the café, the sound of Bing Crosby singing Christmas carols greeted our ears. Then, we walked into a festival of lights where we were greeted by Chef Swertfager in her signature uniform. Our eyes were then immediately transfixed to a bright fireplace with a Christmas tree displayed from the projector in the room’s background, with an assortment of colorful lights cast onto the walls.
The buffet-style cuisine started with Chef Swertfager giving us a ceramic plate for the meal. The menu consisted of roasted pork loin with apples and bacon, herb-roasted turkey with rosemary and thyme, roasted garlic and herb potatoes, as well as assorted roasted vegetables. Accompanied by a pasta station with penne and choice of chicken & vegetable with bechamel or sauteed vegetables with marinara, and garlic bread. Of course, we need to mention the award-winning marinated chicken vegetable and pasta Fagioli soups.
The desserts were sweet potato pie, chocolate ganache Swiss cake roll, and Red Velvet Christmas Parfaits. As we walked the line, every culinary student greeted us and made some small talk, often by name. Their show of hospitality made us feel warm and welcomed while they modeled appropriate dining etiquette. Their uniforms showed us that were essential to this event’s successful operation.
We were seated at tables covered with linen. Real silverware flanked the expertly folded linen napkins with care. Waiters walked the room to fill our water glasses from a pitcher. And they politely approached the table several times, asking us if we needed more food or another pour of water. Chef Strell walked the room, asking each patron about their experience. He even engaged in small talk before moving on to the next table while teachers talked and listened to fun talk with their peers. This healthy engagement was enjoyable to watch.
This year’s holiday celebration was the epitome of professionalism, culinary excellence, customer service, and good old-fashioned hospitality. The FPC culinary department had menus at the table while wait staff took orders and the servers were ready at the stations preparing the food for delivery! This kind of service deserved a comfortable tip!
Thank you, Chef Strell, Chef Swertfager, and the outstanding culinary students. A well-deserved round of applause from those of us that experienced this event and a job well-done!
Written by Dr. Robert Ott, Ph.D. Photos by Chef Strell and Ms. Emily Royo. Edited by Mrs. K. Avra.