Share This Page

A.W. Beattie culinary program serves up Lenten specialties

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Laurie Rees | For the North Journal
A.W. Beattie Career Center student Kelly Simpronio, 16, of McCandless serves dinner to customers Sandra and Rick Fera of Shaler Township on Friday, March 7, 2014, during the school's fish fry. She is a North Allegheny Senior High School junior.
Laurie Rees | For the North Journal
A.W. Beattie Career Center student Rachel Weber, 17, of Hampton Township assembles dinners Friday, March 7, 2014, during the school's fish fry. She is a Hampton High School junior.
Laurie Rees | For the North Journal
A.W. Beattie Career Center students Samantha Jones, 17, (left) and Nathan Fairman, 18, prepare ingredients for batter to coat fish Friday, March 7, 2014, during the school's fish fry. Jones is an Avonworth High School junior, and Fairman is a Shaler Area High School senior.
Laurie Rees | For the North Journal
A.W. Beattie Career Center student Miriam Groom, 18, of McCandless removes fish from the fryer Friday, March 7, 2014, during the school's fish fry. She is a North Allegheny Senior High School senior.
Laurie Rees | For the North Journal
A.W. Beattie Career Center student Miriam Groom, 18, of McCandless tends the fryer Friday, March 7, 2014, during the school's fish fry. She is a North Allegheny Senior High School senior.

This Lenten season, the A.W. Beattie Career Center's Culinary Arts Program is more like a school of fish.

Students have pooled their talents to offer a fish fry from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday through April 11 at the career center in McCandless.

Each dinner includes an 8-ounce battered and deep-fried pollock on a freshly baked sandwich bun with cocktail or tartar sauce; a side of coleslaw; and a choice of fresh-cut fries, homemade potato chips or macaroni and cheese for $6.99.

Miriam Groom, 18, a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School and third-year culinary-arts student at Beattie, said the activity will raise money for students going to the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America competition in Lancaster. FCCLA is a national organization for students in family and consumer sciences classes.

Eleven Beattie students were scheduled to compete at the FCCLA's annual State Leadership Conference from March 19 to 21 at the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center.

For the past two years, Groom has brought home the silver, or second-place, award in cake decorating. This year, she was to compete in commercial baking. The deadline for this edition was before the competition.

“We were given a list of 12 items that we may have to make — such as chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake or muffins. When we get there, the judges will pick three or four of those items, and we'll have two and a half hours to bake them,” said Groom, of McCandless.

“I love baking because I can take something ordinary, like brownies, add a little creativity and make them extraordinary.”

She dreams of owning a bakery someday. But during the first fish fry on March 7, she was hand-dipping more than 120 pollock before taking charge of the fryer.

The biggest challenge, she said, was keeping up with demand.

“It took five to seven minutes to fry each batch,” she said. “It was hard keeping up with all the people coming in.”

Aaron Yurek, culinary supervisor and a culinary-arts instructor at Beattie, was elated by customer turnout the first day, when more than 200 dinners were sold.

“We weren't sure how many people to expect because we only publicized it through word of mouth,” said Yurek, 32, of Mars.

George Hudanick was one of the first customers. He has been hooked on the culinary students' fare for years.

Hudanick, 84, of Shaler Township comes to the Beattie dining room for lunch three days a week to enjoy entrées, sides and desserts — all made by the students from scratch in the school's kitchen.

“This is the best-kept secret in the North Hills. In order for my wife to cook what I get here, she'd have to cook for hours, and it would cost a whole lot more money, too,” he said.

The students offer sit-down, made-to-order breakfasts and buffet lunches to the public every Tuesday through Thursday for a nominal cost.

The meals provide students with real-world experience in planning and preparing meals and serving food to actual customers. All proceeds are used to cover expenses.

The fish fry, on the other hand, has a specific goal — raising $100 for each of the 11 students competing in Lancaster.

By the end of the first week's effort, the students already had netted about $800 — or about $73 per student. Additional money raised after the goal is met will go toward Beattie's other FCCLA-related expenses.

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.