Culinary Arts Launches New Mentoring Program with the HBA

Culinary Arts Launches New Mentoring Program with the HBA

The Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA) has entered into an exclusive partnership with South Tech’s Culinary Arts Program. The HBA’s mission is to foster a culture of respect and cooperation between hospitality businesses and their supplier partners and South Tech hosts one of only two American Culinary Federation certified high school programs in the St. Louis region (the other is at our partner school North Tech). This cooperative program will enhance our curriculum through one to one mentorship.

The program brings senior level students together with a mentor who will work with them throughout the school year. After initial meetings and interviews in September, students will job shadow with their mentor in October or November, check-in during December for a grade and professionalism review, have an additional job shadowing experience in the spring, then mentors and students will end the year with a luncheon in April. Mentors will dedicate a minimum of 7 hours to their student over the course of the school year and also have the option to provide equipment, in-class trainings, field trips, guest speakers,  or to serve as a judge for the many contests our students compete in each year. Mentors are also welcome to join the Culinary Arts advisory board that meets twice annually to conduct program and curriculum reviews.

Paul Witwer, a 30 plus year veteran of the hospitality industry and employee of Performance Food Group Middendorf, is a co-founder of the HBA. He was exposed to the South Tech’s Culinary Arts program two years ago and was immediately impressed. The level of professionalism, the quality, the standards, and the work ethic of the instructors and the students went well beyond his expectations. “They are awesome, full of energy, and so professional and disciplined,” he said of the students.

Melissa Maness and David Bass, program instructors, developed the mentoring program with Witwer to aid both students and the industry. Due to a need for more highly skilled and talented employees in the industry, Witwer felt that there were multiple companies who would be interested in supporting South Tech’s Culinary Arts program. “I think everybody should participate,” he said.

The program has received an overwhelming amount of support, with 21 mentors from 13 different local and regional companies already committed to serve including: Alex Herman, Anne Horton, Jay Vaughn, Chris Desens, and Rob Lyons of Performance Food Group, Josh Galliano of Companion, Lute Cain of Forest Hills Country Club, Christian Gullet and Robert Opdenbrouw of Lutheran Senior Services, Bob Menedez of Sunset 44, Grant Higgs and Bart Phillips of Missouri Athletic Club, Dan Holtgrave of Old Warson Country Club, Chris Stroup of Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, Brian Menzel of Glen Echo Country Club, Josh Schlink of River City Casino, Bobby Tessler of St. Louis Wing Company, Todd Corum of the St. Louis Zoo, William Ortmann and Beau Meadows of Cardinals Nation, and David Laufer of River City Casino.

To learn more about the HBA, visit their website here:
South Tech High School

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