Culinary students from Worcester Tech travel to France for break

WORCESTER — Over April vacation, a group of culinary students from Worcester Technical High School had the opportunity to travel to France to experience the culture and learn a few things.

“I wanted to go to experience the different techniques they use for cooking. A lot of people say French food is really special or different so I wanted to taste some of it,” junior Destiny Gonzalez said. “And also it was cool to learn alongside the other French students.”

Kevin Layton, chef instructor/head of culinary arts at Worcester Technical High School, and another Worcester Tech teacher went to the School of Hospitality and Tourism of the Loire Valley six years ago, but the relationship began two years prior.

Eight years ago, Layton picked up a phone call from an instructor at the School of Hospitality. Since then, Layton has connected his students with students from the school every year.

The Worcester Tech students connected with pen pals at the School of Hospitality they traveled to over the break. The trip was a first for Worcester Tech.

“(Meeting our pen pals) was pretty interesting. Working with the students, you see the way they interact with each other and that was a little different from the way we interact with our peers,” Gonzalez said.

Over the course of each school year, Worcester Tech students do projects with the School of Hospitality and learn about French culture and the students’ everyday lives at school and home.

“It’s more so they can understand and get to see that there’s a different language out there,” Layton said. “It wasn’t just a field trip, it was an exchange.”

Students from the School of Hospitality have visited Worcester Tech about six times. This was Worcester Tech’s first time visiting them.

“The whole country was just a complete culture shock,” junior Rimarlyn Bonilla said. “The scenery was pretty nice and most of the people were nice as well.”

The first class the students took part in was a pastry class. They made a shortbread cookie base with a pistachio mousse and a berry balm, baguettes and croissants. The students learned how baguettes are mixed from start to finish and how croissants are made the “French way.” Bonilla said the French technique for making croissants is different.

“Just to see how to get the butter into it, roll it in and get all those flakey layers was really cool,” Layton said.

Reflecting on their trip, the most memorable experiences were those outside the kitchen.

“It was really nice, especially when we went to Paris. We saw a bunch of really beautiful buildings and the whole city was gorgeous,” Gonzalez said. “We were able to connect with other cultures. You never really think about it but going there, some don’t know how we (as Americans) interact with each other.”

Students from the School of Hospitality are supposed to visit Worcester Tech early next year. Layton said Worcester Tech plans to go back to France in about two years.

“I hope in the future (Worcester Tech students) will be able to do this more because it was a really awesome experience,” Bonilla said. “And having (the French students) here more often too would be cool.”