Christmas Classics with CATS Catering
The Ashland Beacon
The clanging, beating and chopping could be heard throughout and the smell of cinnamon, chocolate and freshly baked sugar cookies filled the air! “Keep the rolling pins dry!” shouted the culinary teacher. “Where’s the nutmeg? Make sure all the ingredients are on the table. I’m ready to make gingerbread.” yelled the boy with the blue gloves and white hairnet.” It’s the time of year when CATS Catering at Paul Blazer High School is bustling making their homemade treats. CATS Catering has been providing Christmas services since 1996. This year the menu includes some of the best recipes from CATS Catering including: chipped beef cheeseball, cheddar cheeseball, cranberry pecan cheeseball, Oreo balls, cinnamon rolls, Santa sugar cookies and Reindeer Christmas Munch. Several people within the Ashland community look forward to ordering these delights and making it part of their Christmas tradition. CATS Catering averages 25-30 orders ranging from appetizers to desserts during the holiday season.
The successful CATS Catering program is run by Paul Blazer High School teacher Heather Coleman, who has been teaching Family and Consumer Sciences for 25 years. The past 10 years have focused on culinary arts. Coleman commented, “I do have to say my mentor, Kathy Hill, played a huge role in helping me develop curriculum and catering plans. She started Cat’s Catering in the 90s. I learned so much from her. I will message her now with questions and suggestions.”
Coleman explained the school program by stating, “CATS Catering is a school-based student enterprise for students to gain hands-on experience. Our holiday bake sale allows us to put money back into the program, so all levels of culinary students can practice skills. Our Culinary II students are primarily involved with catering items. They are traditionally seniors in our Culinary Arts Career Pathway. This means they have taken four credit hours within the Culinary Arts Curriculum. They will be taking an end of program assessment as well as an Industry Certification. They will leave our program with Culinary Arts certifications. These students will meet the career readiness measure for accountability. We have approximately 90 students currently enrolled in our culinary pathway.”
Max Whitlock, a senior at Paul Blazer High School, enjoys being part of CATS Catering. Whitlock remarked, “I think it's fun to make a lot of things at once. It’s a rewarding experience because you actually get to make and create something that people enjoy.” Whitlock stated that his favorite part of the class is when he gets to use the giant mixer. The mixer can hold enough ingredients to make 80 cookies at once. Currently, CATS Catering has 36 dozen cookies to make for orders; that’s 436 cookies! Whitlock continued, “There is no time to think sometimes. No loitering at stations. You must be agile! When we prepare sugar cookies, we operate like an assembly line. I make the dough and give it to the rollers. They give it to the ones who cut out the shapes of the cookies, and then they give it to the bakers. After the cookies cool, we have students who are decorators and boxers. The process just keeps going.”
CATS Catering has been a valuable experience for students enrolled in the program. Whitlock has been able to apply the skills he has learned from culinary to get a part-time job after school at Chick Fil. Whitlock believes that working and studying in the school kitchen has made him more comfortable at work and able to take direction better. Rheyce DeBoard, who is also a senior student involved with CATS Catering agreed, “It definitely teaches you how to work with other people.” Blazer seniors Jasmine Bryant and Drew Clark also spoke highly of CATS Catering. “It helps students prepare for the real world and to independently live,” stated Bryant. Clark remarked, “I have learned to love and appreciate food and the process it takes to make it.”
Supporting Cat’s Catering allows Blazer students to develop skills that will last a lifetime. Landon Himes, senior student in CATS Catering, confirmed, “It is an important class that teaches life skills needed on a daily basis and promotes healthy living.” Please contact Heather Coleman through email or phone if you would like to donate or know more about CATS Catering: