Pots were boiling, pastries were baking and bodies were moving Wednesday as students at Aliso Niguel High School prepared a special luncheon to announce the start of an internship program to teach students the restaurant business.
Students spend 15 hours a week working at local restaurants as part of their Culinary Arts Department curriculum. They also may receive community college credit. The paid internships teach students all aspects of the restaurant industry, from bookkeeping and produce inventory to cooking and busing tables.
“This will really help me a lot,” said sophomore James Noonan, who aspires to be the next Wolfgang Puck.
A pilot program started last year, with the help of the Aliso Viejo Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Assn. After a year of fine-tuning, the partnership officially gets underway with restaurants ranging from the Ritz-Carlton and the Salt Creek Grill, to Mimi’s Cafe and the Macaroni Grill to the International House of Pancakes and Pizza Hut.
“I think it’s a great program,” said Cori Stewart, general manager of Pasta Bravo in Aliso Viejo, a program participant. “This is one area where you can get practical experience at a young age.”