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 A meal prepared by the East ProStart Culinary program for the Colorado Association of School BoardsAlthough East High School’s Golden Feather restaurant is a month or so away from opening, ProStart culinary arts students under the direction of Janae Passalaqua this week fired up the ovens and donned the aprons and hats for a group of special visitors.

With East hosting the Region 6 meeting of the Colorado Association of School Boards Wednesday, there was a sterling opportunity to showcase the notable talents of the ProStart students through the preparation, and presentation, of a delicious meal and dessert for the attendees from throughout Southern Colorado.

And as any great chef worth his or her salt knows, it all starts with the planning.

“We’ve been prepping for this all week,” explained Miss Passalaqua, Catering and ProStart teacher at East. “We started on Monday, cleaning all the dishes, because they’ve been in storage. Then we started prepping the food on Tuesday: cucumbers and tomatoes, and all the fruit and shells for the tarts. 

“Then we had to make sure we had all the salt and pepper shakers, and tea and water pitchers, ready to go.”

During First Hour on Wednesday, the students delved into the production full steam ahead, starting with the chicken that had been left to soak in brine overnight.

In all, the talents of 10 students were utilized in preparing a meal of Caprese Chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans, salad, bread rolls and the tart dessert, and then serving it on a buffet-style line.

“The kids really got into it,” Miss Passalaqua said. 

As an aesthetic touch, a sunflower was added as a centerpiece to each table: personally picked by Miss Passalaqua from a vegetable farm she worked at over the summer.

On hand to observe the operation inside East’s Media Center was Principal Andy Clementi.

“We’re very proud of our program here and this is a nice opportunity to see folks from all around the state and have them enjoy some of our kids’ fantastic food,” Principal Clementi said.

As each diner made his or her way through the line, the Eagles were meticulous in explaining what was being served and how it had been prepared. East ProStart students serve meals to CASB members

And table to table, there was nothing but glowing praise for the meal and the manner in which it was served.

 “The presentation was wonderful. The servers were really polished in how they talked to us and served the food. And I’m very impressed with the menu.”

“It’s delicious. Everything I’ve tasted is wonderful. And the students who served us knew all about the food they prepared, so they were able to give us dietary explanations of what was in it, which was very impressive. They are doing a fantastic job.”

“As you can tell, my mouth is full, so that means I’m enjoying it.”

 “I like this. This is one of the better meals we’ve had.”

“Excellent food.”

Along with District 60 Board of Education members, Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso participated in the Region 6 meeting before partaking in the meal.

“It’s so amazing to be able to highlight the talents of our students in our culinary arts program,” Superintendent Macaluso said. “Miss Passalaqua does an amazing job, so it’s wonderful to share that with colleagues from across our region.”