Palatine High School Chemistry of Foods Students Host Annual Soup Charity Event

Student-made soup bowls.

Student-made soup bowls.

Faculty, staff, and students at Palatine High School participated in a student-facilitated event dedicated to helping their community combat hunger.

Students in the Chemistry of Foods class hosted the annual “Empty Bowls Project” to raise funds for the Palatine Township Food Pantry on Feb. 6 at Palatine High School.

“We tell the kids that even though we might have bowls of soup that are full, there will always be someone who has a bowl that is empty, and we are helping those people,” said Erika Varela, culinary arts teacher at PHS. “I like seeing the satisfaction students have and how proud they are of their work.”

Junior Lexy Harms stirs soup while guest start to arrive.

Junior Lexy Harms stirs soup while guest start to arrive.

For a donation of $10, PHS attendees received a bowl made by students in the ceramic arts class, as well as soup, bread, and desserts made by the food chemistry students. Soup and bread was also available ala carte for $6 without a bowl. The five soups that students selected to prepare and serve were chicken soup, minestrone, baked potato soup, broccoli cheese soup, and creamy chicken wild rice soup.

This fundraising event took the place of a regular restaurant day, which is where students received a first-hand experience of what it’s like to be in a restaurant kitchen. The class, which combines a traditional cooking class with chemistry, provides students with a well-rounded learning experience about the food preparation, the industry, and cooking. As a dual-credit course with William Rainey Harper College, students have the opportunity to study and test for their food safety and sanitation certification at the high school.

soupbowls5“In this class we are teaching students skills that they can apply to their jobs, whether or not they become chefs, doctors, engineers, or lawyers, they are learning how to apply what they have learned in a classroom,” said science teacher Robert Heitz. “This event was applying those skills to a job in the kitchen and it was a very busy event. It was great hearing so many positive compliments from faculty and staff about the students’ work.”




Palatine High School Chemistry of Foods Students’ First Restaurant Day

Junior Alex Ayala sorts toppings for the pizza.

More than 60 students enrolled in Palatine High School’s Chemistry of Foods class were working together to assemble their first large order of personal deep-dish pizzas since the school year started. Some rolled the dough, others were in charge of sauce and toppings, and with a lot of teamwork, they completed more than 120 orders for Palatine High School faculty and staff on Oct. 4.

With the assistance of teachers Erika Varela, Mark Langer, and Robert Heitz, and Palatine based Pizza Bella pizzeria owner Tony DeFilippis, students received a first-hand experience of what it’s like to be in a restaurant kitchen.

Emily Seidl and Tony DeFilippis of Palatine’s Pizza Bella thin pizza sauce with a little water.

“The best part of this class is that the students get real-world experience running a restaurant even though it’s still within the school environment so they have room to make mistakes,” Varela said. “Many students comment that this is the hardest they have ever worked in a class and many teachers comment that this is the hardest they’ve ever seen their kids work in a class.”

The class, which combines a traditional cooking class with chemistry, provides students with a well-rounded learning experience about the food preparation, the industry, and cooking. As a dual-credit course with William Rainey Harper College, students have the opportunity to study and test for their food safety and sanitation certification at the high school.

“I love seeing the kids get to learn chemistry and be able to apply it, because the biggest question they have is always, ‘when am I going to use this,’” Heitz said. “They jump into using chemistry right away.”

Pizza Bella owner Tony DeFilippis (center) helps juniors Chan Han (left) and Chaka Kelly (right) roll pizza dough.

Langer agreed that not only is the work experience great for students, it gives them a relatable way to look at chemistry.

“I like giving the real-world application to chemistry,” Langer said. “This is something kids deal with everyday — food.”

Tahkyra Whitaker and Karlee Darow chop vegetables for side salads that came with each person’s order. Orders were $6 each, and included a pizza, salad, dessert, and drink.

Each quarter, the class completes two food events, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are restaurants. Varela said the first restaurant the class hosts is a carry out because it allows for more focus on food preparation without worrying about turning a classroom into a restaurant. In the future, students complete a sit down meal where staff members can sit down and have lunch.

“We try to get two meals in per quarter, and that can be tough during the first quarter because students are busy getting their food safety and sanitation certification program, which is new this year,” Varela said. “Students earn dual-credit with Harper College when they successfully complete the course and pass their certification.”

Frederico Patino, junior, sorts through customer orders the day before the class hosted the restaurant day.

If students do not pass their certification the first time through, they have an opportunity to continue the course and retake their certification test up to two times. If they haven’t passed the test the second time, they will have to take the training again. Varela said it’s rare for a student not to pass the certification test.

DeFilippis, who spoke to students about sanitation, entrepreneurship, and owning his own business, said it was great to help students learn about what it’s like in the workplace.

“The students got hands-on experience making deep-dish pizzas, and it benefits the students because they are being hands-on and seeing what it’s like in the workplace, and benefitting from know what can come in their future.”

Watch the kids in action below!