A dozen special needs high school students in New Rochelle will put together a full meal Monday at Don Coqui restaurant with the help of two chefs as the culmination of a year-long program.
Don Coqui Chefs @ Work school has put together a modified version of its culinary arts program for special needs students. They learn about nutrition, proper food handling and other aspects of cooking, as well as related science and math. The teachers also guide them toward overcoming unhealthy eating habits. When they prepare and eat the final meal, with the chefs and three teaching assistance from New Rochelle schools, the mealtime conversation helps them build social skills.
Here’s the press release from the school district:
Special Needs Students To Cook with Pros in the Kitchen at Don Coqui
End of Year Fiesta to Showcase Learning Through Culinary Program
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – On Monday, June 18th at 9:30 a.m., a dozen special needs high-school students will prepare a full meal as the culminating event of their year long Culinary Training Program at Don Coqui restaurant.
The New Rochelle School District and Don Coqui Chefs @ Work have collaborated on a community based work-study experience for students who are interested in the culinary arts. Considered one of New Rochelle’s most successful transition programs for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are graduating from high school, Don Coqui has specifically designed a Modified Culinary Arts Program for Special Needs Students.
The staffing for this program includes two professional chefs from Don Coqui and three Teaching Assistants from New Rochelle Schools. The program staff uses intensive teaching methods to raise the students’ cooking abilities significantly over the course of the year. The ultimate goal is to assist the students to find supported work preparing food in restaurants.
Students work with the chef to learn nutrition, menu selection, ingredient and equipment identification, food preparation, culinary techniques, knife skills, proper food handling, science and math associated with food preparation and selection and sanitation.
Beyond teaching the students how to cook, the staff uses non-coercive strategies to help them overcome unhealthy eating habits. The cooking classes always culminate in shared meals where conversation and social skills are cultivated.
Don Coqui is located at 115 Cedar Street in New Rochelle.