This week in our Amazing Food Truck Race, student's were up against their first regional challenge. After two weeks of learning about the flavor profiles and cuisine of the Northeast United States, each food truck adapted their signature dishes to represent the region. Food trucks had the amount of money earned in the Truck Stop and Speed Bump challenges to spend on ingredients they needed. Ingredients that I already had on hand were considered "free". I gave students 3 days for this Northeastern Challenge:
Day 1: Students worked on their presentation and plan for recreating their signature dish
Day 2: Students prepared their signature dish and finalized their presentation
Day 3: Students finalized signature dishes, plated, and presented to our "customers".
Now here comes the exciting part! Our customers were not only school staff members, but local food truck owners! In an Adventure Quest I had given my student's a few weeks back, I challenged them to visit local food trucks and invite them to our classroom. I created postcards for students to hand to them with all the details. The calls started coming in and our community was thrilled to be a part of this learning experience for my students. To be completely real, this scared me a little...okay a lot. What would these local chefs think of my student's skills? Would they think I've been preparing them all wrong? Would they think this Amazing Food Truck Race idea was crazy? However, this is what real authentic learning is all about. Chefs that are out there everyday in the restaurant industry coming in to give feedback to my students. So, I pushed all fear aside and embraced this opportunity with open arms.
Once the food truck owners arrived on the day of the challenge, they circulated around the room while my students were making last minute preparations on their signature dishes. They asked questions and gave some last minute recommendations. I was so proud of the students and how professional they were as they shared their ideas and preparation process to our guests. I also noticed students "upped" their game. They weren't just preparing this food for me or even the staff, they were preparing it for people who operated a food truck for a living! This was the real deal!
One by one students began setting up their food truck stations with their signature dishes and samples. They also brought their ipads that held their presentations to share about the Northeastern region. This is where the magic happened. The growth I saw since our food truck launch was evident. Students were more poised, their presentations were more polished, and they were more confident. As each team member began sharing about their dish in detail, I was so impressed by the knowledge they are sharing about the Northeastern region. It is clear that they have done their research, they have practiced, and they are clearly able to tie the preparation and flavors of their signature dish to the region.
The authenticity of this experience was most evident in the feedback that the food truck owners gave after each presentation and sampling of the dishes. They asked important questions, gave specific feedback as to what worked and didn't work in each dish, and advice on how the dishes could be improved. They offered suggestions that only someone who cooked for a living day in and day out could give. My students were sponges and hung on every word. It was priceless.
As I watched this scene unfold my heart was full and I may have teared up a little. My students had owned their learning. They collaborated and created far beyond what I imagined.
This... was 21st century learning in action.
This... is what it looks like to have learning come alive.
This... is what makes the tough days worth it and why I must continue to bring passion to the classroom everyday.
This... is just the beginning. I can't wait to watch this adventure unfold as we continue our race across the United States.
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning magical for students. Love to gamify!