More than four months of measuring, chopping, frosting and decorating culminated on Thursday at students of the Promise Culinary School showcased a smorgasbord of selections created during their time at the school.
The Promise Culinary School is a culinary school for adults run by the anti-hunger organization Elijah's Promise, out of their Livingston Avenue offices. Students in the program learn many aspects of working in the culinary industry, such as menu planning, restaurant management, and cooking and baking.
The state-accredited school is a working school, producing bakery items weeky for the Better World Cafe in Highland Park, which is also operated by Elijah's Promise, and Raisin' Dough, a community shared bakery program.
Thursday's culminating event had seven students presenting proposals for restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops that they wanted to pursue, said Elijah's Promise executive director Lisanne Finston.
Over the past six weeks, the students researched and formed their proposals, identifying where they wanted to set up shop, the economic conditions of those areas and why their business would work there, and designed accompanying business plans and menus.
On Thursday, the seven presenting students discussed their theoretical restaurants and presented homemade samples of menu items.
Finston, who sat on a panel of judges that heard the proposals and tasted every sample as part of determining grades for each student, said the event was overall meant for the students to showcase what they have learned in the school and feature their strengths.
While guests sampled dozens of homemade dishes, including cupcakes, pies, fudge brownies, quesadillas, quiche, breads and sandwiches, Anissa Hopkins said her proposal for a spot called "Tea Thyme" would be a cafe with a full bakery menu, including vegan bakery items.
"Vegan (food) has become very popular," she said.
As a result, Hopkins said she often uses almond milk instead of regular milk in her baking, to be able to accomodate people who cannot have dairy.
Hopkins presented apple pies, a spinach and cheese bread, baguettes and carrot cake. The pie, spinach bread and cake are from her own recipes, she said.
Ideally, "Tea Thyme" would open up north, in the Union/Millburn area, where Hopkins in from. There aren't many cafe bakeries in that area, she said.
About 20 people cycled through, tasting the different types of food piled high on two tables and a shelf, as Finston pointed out what each item was.
"It's delicious," she said. "Everything is delicious."