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Training workshops at culinary school

In 2009, the sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi (SFA) invited UPLIFT Haiti to conduct a workshop for the 2010 graduating class of the Culinary School of Béraud, which the sisters operate along with culinary schools in Cap-Haitien and Les Cayes.  The sisters also asked us to conduct “Train the Trainer” courses for the school’s instructors.

From January 9-16, 2010, a team of five UPLIFt Haiti volunteers conducted 5 days of training in Béraud, near Les Cayes. We focused on procedures for safely preparing and serving food to large groups such as family reunions, international visitors, church dinners and other gatherings.  

Students from all three schools of the SFA Culinary Program attended the week of training in Béraud.  Graduates will seek employment primarily in homes, rectories, convents, restaurants and hotels.

We taught classes on culinary techniques, cake decorating, water sanitation and table setting. Each of us  taught a different class or had a different role in the trip.   Twenty-one culinary-school teachers attended the train-the-trainer course and 37 students attended the student workshops. 

The first two days of class  were for the teachers, and the remaining three days were for both teachers and students.  All the trainees were very enthusiastic and appreciative for the information we shared with them. 

Halfway through the training, on January 12, Haiti was struck by the devastating earthquake that leveled much of its capital and other cities such as Léogâne.  We felt the quake.  Damage and injuries occurred but were relatively minor compared to the areas near the quake.  But  the fear of additional quakes was pervasive.  Still, the students and UPLIFT Haiti volunteers all wanted the training to continue.  It was our way of defying the fear we all felt.   

Teachers and students at the culinary school were a talented group and very receptive to what we were offering.  The students plan on careers in the food service industry. Some told us of plans to start a catering business. Others hope to work in restaurants or secure positions within households.  Safe food handling and sanitation, challenging in a country with limited refrigeration, is an important part of the country’s public health.

We also provided the trainees with experience in creative cooking.  We used local produce and together prepared some new dishes.  We paired items that they regularly cook with some new (to them) ideas such as plantain chips with guacamole. Delicious, we all thought. 

Cake decorating was a very popular class.  Everyone took part in piping icings, creating flowers, edgings and writings.  Table setting and creative decorating with napkins, ribbons and flowers were also fun and popular learning experiences.

Preparation in the months leading up to the culinary mission proved essential to its success.  We created booklets in Haitian Creole to explain food-handling safety, concentrating on sanitation.  The booklets also provided information on creative food presentation, table settings and recipes.  Here in the U.S. we take for granted our access to information vie the Internet, through our local library and bookstores.  The trainees appreciated having the booklets.

On the final day we had a graduation ceremony and, fittingly, invited our hosts to a banquet.  We gave each student and teacher a certificate of completion and gift bag. It was clear the students found the completion certificates very meaningful. We hope the students can use them to help secure employment. 

Thanks to donations from our supporters back home, we could provide some essential culinary tools to each participant, including two cutting boards, paring knives, garnishing tools and graters.  We were also able to give each of the three schools a stand mixer or hand mixer plus cake-decorating tools, cloth napkins, aprons, potholders and other kitchen essentials.

The sisters invited us to return next year, as part of our commitment to implement refresher courses that the sisters have decided to make part of the school’s regular curriculum.

In Béraud, the SFA community building. It houses the SFA culinary school. The sisters operate two other culinary schools in Les Cayes and Cap Haitien.




UPLIFT Haiti volunteer Pam Reid (right) teaching a course on food handling and safety.


Culinary school teachers demonstrate cake-decoration skills learned the previous day.


Class posing for picture after closing ceremony.


Below, Sr. Vorbesl, administrator of the culinary schoool, thanks Judith Nestor, UPLIFT Haiti founder and board chair.

Unite People to Learn, Inspire and Form Together."

© UPLIFT Haiti