Aurora Colorado is a cornucopia of ethnic food from all over the world.  Gateway High School is home for the only Pro-Start culinary program in Aurora Public Schools. 5 students from vastly different kitchen backgrounds field a competitive cooking squad that extends the cities unique experience with food culture. In this A Story, contributors Emily Thomas, Kara Mendez, Diana Valeria Morales Cebreros, Tyris Trueblood & Diego Morales invite us into their pantry and answer a contentious question; What’s your favorite kitchen utensil?

 

When I go to my taste buds I am reminded of home. See my dad is gay, he got remarried to an Italian Mexican so I have that kind of food influence and my step dad on this side is from China but he is also Filipino, Spanish, and Russian so we have all these food cultures that he brings. My mom is from the South and I have this southern part as well. So home for me is everywhere because I’ve tasted food from everywhere. Emily Thomas Ode to the white KitchenAid mixer As my Dad being a pastry chef and me following close behind, a mixer has forever been in my life. The one white KitchenAid mixer that’s been in my life forever and will continue to be in my life for the rest of my life. From the many birthday cakes I make with my Dad to the many many black and white shortbread cookies I make to sell. From the chocolate chip cookies I make all the time to the hours and hours of Christmas baking of sugar cookies, raisin drop cookies, Oreo balls and peanut butter balls I would make with my aunt. That one white mixer that sits in the corner of the countertops like a rock that takes up space when unused. But it’s not just a mixer it’s our pasta roller and cutter, it’s our meat grinder when it’s my mom’s birthday and she wants her birthday spaghetti and meatballs. It’s what we use to shred zucchini when I make zucchini bread for my neighbor that I’ve lived next to for my entire life. It’s the mess I have to clean most times I bake or cook. If this mixer could talk it would tell everyone it needs some oil because it squeaks like an old ceiling fan. What they don’t know is how much flour I have cleaned up because of your sticky switches going higher than I needed. In the future when they remember you, they will remember the times you stopped working which made our hearts stop working because the plug was bent and didn’t fit into the outlet properly.
A
As a little mixed kid growing up there wasn’t a straight set thing on what we ate. We had anything. My parents just made whatever they felt like spaghetti, pork chops, stir-fry and more. I don’t really have a home taste so I’m really open for anything. Kara Mendez Ode to the Spatula Oh spatula It could probably do anything cutting, flipping, tossing, grabbing, stirring, it could probably do it all. Spatulas are always there when you need them, in the kitchen I mean. Need to flip a burger, grab a spatula. Making some pancakes, grab a spatula. No clean spoons or forks around? grab a spatula. Are the kids acting up again? use the spatula, it’s got a nice surface area. A spatula is the hero we deserve when that darn Totino’s pizza gets stuck to the pan. The spatula never lets me down. That moment when my dad left me to my own devices to make pancakes, When I was panicking wondering what he meant by “Just look for the bubbles on top” I gave it a try. I grabbed the spatula and flipped that pancake whether it was truly ready or not. It made it seem like a piece of cake, no problem for the spatula at all. It’s sleek flatness just gently picked it up and placed it back down like the lightest feather. Black and elegant it always sits in a holder waiting for it’s time to shine. Of course it’s time will come, because a spatula can do everything. I aspire to be like a spatula, Someone everyone can rely on in times of need. Just like we had to rely on our parents when we were young. Where would I be without my spatula? Probably not in the kitchen. What would we do without spatulas? Flip and grab things with our hands like a bunch of heathens? No! That’s what spatulas are for, to help us out in our times of need. Spatulas are like Superman, call for it and it will be there. In my house there’s not a thing we make without using a spatula at least once. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, it can do it all. My spatula always keeps the party going, if the meat in the pan isn’t sizzling as much as it used to, I just grab the spatula and flip them hearing that loud, wonderful sizzle again. Dear spatula, hear me out real quick You aren’t just a spatula, you’re a friend. You can do it all. Many people may just think “oh it’s just a spatula” but you’re not. You’re Superman, my Superman You’ve been around since my cooking days began at the ripe age of eight. Can you believe it’s been you and I for nine years? In the future, when it’s your time to go, meaning you break or someone treats you a way you shouldn’t be treated, Just know I’ll always hold those Saturday morning breakfasts we made together in my memory forever. Although my hands are small, you always seemed to fit perfectly. I know you’re not perfect, You’ve had a bit of melting happen due to your misuse, But no matter what you’re still beautiful to me. Your finger ridges, the red ring around her handle, and even your melted parts, you’ll always be near and dear to my heart.
A
My grandma in Seattle is most proud of me. Every time I visit her she buys me ingredients to make her things and leaves me in the kitchen alone; then she tries my food afterwards. My grandpa teaches me how to filet salmon. I want to prove a point that women belong in the professional kitchen just as much as they belong in the kitchen at home. I am more of a poet in the kitchen than a scientist. - Diana Valeria Morales Cebreros Ode to the Wok If the wok could speak it would say “Diana,shut up!” But it isn’t just a normal wok It’s something I can connect to in the kitchen. In the future when they remember you, they will see you as a kitchen utensil but I see someone who listens when I make a delicious meal. You’ve done so many things with me in the kitchen, it’s quite an amazing bond. Of course my Dad has a closer bond with you but who cares. He uses you for making authentic meals such as Carne Asada, Mexican rice and Calabacitas con queso. That’s just crazy but trust me I will make magic happen with you as well. You’ve been growing old with us, it’s hard to believe that you haven’t broken yet. Your handle is a little weak due to all the times we toss you around. I will fix that very soon. Being the pan we use a lot, it’s hard to compare you to a typical frying pan. Yes, you might’ve gotten a couple rust spots but hey it’s a part of growing up. Thank you! Thank you for the beautiful memory of my Aunt making stir fry. I can hear the carrots and asparagus sizzling while she tosses you up and down. It’s the way you have these curved walls that cook everything so nice and even. Without you in the kitchen, who knows what would bring me into the kitchen. In the future, may they remember you as someone who will always be there for when I create something new. I’m surprised I still haven’t married you. You’re not just only a wok but you have brought two cultures together. You have brought both Asian and Mexican cultures in a kitchen. What an amazing bond it’s like you created your own magic. You Mr. Wok are typically used in more of the Asian cultures but then my dad brought you into the kitchen and uses you to make so many different meals both Asian and Mexican foods. Not a lot people expect those cultures to combine but thank you! Maybe after you hear this, you will say “Diana, shut up.” But just know that all I am trying to say is “Thank you Mr. Wok for coming into my kitchen.”
A
The closest thing to home cooked food for me was Chipotle. Growing up my mom never cooked we were always trying these new foods. I’ve realized that I don’t have a home dish and we have opened up to all kinds of experiences. Diego Morales Ode to the Old Kitchen Knife By Diego Morales Why you still exist? So dull and bent, Oh, why do we still have you? You’ve been with us through rough times, Oh, why do we still use you? I can’t remember the last time you did your job right Oh, why do we still have you? It seems we only keep you for decoration or when we can’t find the whisk, or that time I burnt the biscuits and had to scratch the coal like residue off the pan. As I debate with my mother about keeping you Telling her that it’s never too late to throw you away and that you can’t create new memories with a silly knife. Doing my best to convince her to dispose of you! For goodness sake, I don’t like you. You’re a burden to me. A reminder of where we came from. A symbol of frustration. But wait, maybe I’m simply being naïve You’re not a symbol of frustration and failure but a symbol of perseverance, A reminder of where we came from but no longer who we are. Just a clouded memory Oh, why do we still have you? Because you have always been there for us, always there when we need you, Oh why do we still use you? Because you shine us with old. Lovely memories we had growing up, You’re a part of our family secret recipe, Oh, why do we still have you? Because you’re not just a simple kitchen knife, You’re a piece of who we are, you have been passed down from my grandmother’s mother a nd now I only hope to be able to pass down the torch.
A
I feel more pulled towards the work kitchen than the one at home. When I’m at home I can do whatever I want but I’m not really trying as hard because I don’t have to impress my family with my food. I am just cooking so we can all eat. If I’m at a work kitchen I want people to like it because I want people to return. I am going to want complete strangers to say “Oh my God that food was delicious and we’re going to come back here again”. So I show more passion at my work kitchen. Tyris Trueblood Ode to the Griddle The griddle It’s been there for me since I was little Four or five? Maybe longer Been with my family since as long as I can remember It’s been there with us through the thick and thin like my first pancakes The griddle was my youth’s greatest riddle Just like a USB having to flip it one too many times to get the plug to sit The griddle is a jack of all trades and master of none The culinary fiddle, a solid instrument favorite to it’s players and left alone by others It’s white base and black top get everything done Bacon, eggs, meat, toast, and more The reigning champ for making pancakes galore The stove could work too But no one wants to wait for the heat to transfer to the pan Only to get burnt butter and burnt hands It’s black top for the culinary imagination A place where you learn pancakes shouldn’t be cooked the morning after salmon The griddle only remains a riddle until the dialed heat becomes visible Being short, the pancakes never cooked right the first time I couldn’t tell what the heat was at, only that it was on My brother came in to point it out almost ritualistic Every Sunday morning 9:10 AM on the dot Took over the pancakes and silently adjust Where the second and third batch came out with that favorite food lust While I got the bacon The turkey bacon that sizzled never minding the heat riddle, to fill our noses As me and my brothers debated over who said prayer Forever underappreciated but still there Still here, griddle without you there wouldn’t be a weekly tradition Sunday morning breakfast would just be a bowl of cereal, no lounging in the kitchen Pancake experiments would never have gone wrong Although you may be put up now, the next time I make pancakes you’re the first thing I’m bringing down You still and always will be the most useful friend of all.
A
ProStart is a course designed to teach students the skills, techniques, and mindsets necessary to excel in the hospitality industry. My goal is to link our program with the community in a mutually beneficial relationship. As we are a new program, we are just beginning to build the connection to the Gateway High School and the Aurora community. If my students are able to engage in internships, shadow days, and jobs while in this program, they will be more likely to succeed upon graduation. Restaurant and food service is a massive and continually expanding industry, and these students are learning the practical skills and foundational knowledge to become leaders in the industry, which is, often times, within our community. - Sarah Field

I feel more pulled towards the work kitchen than the one at home. When I’m at home I can do whatever I want but I’m not really trying as hard because I don’t have to impress my family with my food. I am just cooking so we can all eat. If I’m at a work kitchen I want people to like it because I want people to return. I am going to want complete strangers to say “Oh my God that food was delicious and we’re going to come back here again”. So I show more passion at my work kitchen.

Tyris Trueblood

 

Ode to the Griddle

 

The griddle

It’s been there for me since I was little

Four or five? Maybe longer

Been with my family since as long as I can remember

 

It’s been there with us through the thick and thin like my first pancakes

The griddle was my youth’s greatest riddle

Just like a USB having to flip it one too many times to get the plug to sit

The griddle is a jack of all trades and master of none

 

The culinary fiddle, a solid instrument

 favorite to it’s players and left alone by others

It’s white base and black top get everything done

Bacon, eggs, meat, toast, and more

The reigning champ for making pancakes galore

 

The stove could work too

But no one wants to wait for the heat to transfer to the pan

Only to get burnt butter and burnt hands

It’s black top for the culinary imagination

A place where you learn pancakes shouldn’t be cooked the morning after salmon

 

The griddle only remains a riddle until the dialed heat becomes visible

Being short, the pancakes never cooked right the first time

I couldn’t tell what the heat was at, only that it was on

My brother came in to point it out almost ritualistic

 

Every Sunday morning 9:10 AM on the dot

Took over the pancakes and silently adjust

Where the second and third batch came out with that favorite food lust

While I got the bacon

The turkey bacon that sizzled never minding the heat riddle, to fill our noses

As me and my brothers debated over who said prayer

Forever underappreciated but still there

Still here, griddle without you there wouldn’t be a weekly tradition

Sunday morning breakfast would just be a bowl of cereal, no lounging in the kitchen

Pancake experiments would never have gone wrong

Although you may be put up now, the next time I make pancakes you’re the first thing I’m bringing down

You still and always will be the most useful friend of all.

 

CONTACT

Aurora Public Schools

ADDRESS: 15771 E 1st Ave, Aurora, CO 80011

E-MAIL: aurorastory303@gmail.com