Fudgenugget. I was born in the wrong school district. If I had taken Faye Blackmon’s culinary class back when I was in high school, I bet I’d be on Top Chef right now basking in the glory of Paul’s shiny knives. But I digress. Wednesday morning, I dragged along photo intern Micah Nunley to Duncanville High School, where we watched legendary Faye Blackmon teach a batch of seniors real life skills inside the kitchen.
In May, Blackmon, 69, is retiring from Duncanville HS after teaching for 37 years.
Jump for beautiful photos of kids and food.
“I was cursed by my grandmother,” says Blackmon. “She decided there had to be a teacher in the family.”
Her grandmother probably didn’t realize that Faye would become more than a teacher. Blackmon’s curriculum has inspired countless students to pursue careers in the culinary arts. Of the eight students I had a chance to talk with, seven were already enrolled or planning to enroll in a culinary program upon graduation.
Every other day, these high school seniors gather inside Blackmon’s enormous kitchen classroom for three hours, sometimes arriving at ungodly hours (like 6am) to run a breakfast express at The Main Street Cafe where they serve breakfast burritos, cinnamon buns, and lemonade to over 200 hungry students. Other times, they’re learning how to make Valentine’s Day cookies. A group of students were diligently adding milk and butter to chocolate chip cookie dough that would bake into beautiful heart-shaped desserts the kids would sell in order to raise money for their end-of-the-year banquet. Customers can dictate whatever not-so-subliminal messages they want written on their cookie. Like the one above.
Off in the back, I found Tiffany (Blackmon’s assistant) helping Andy and Cassandra prepare for their upcoming Skills USA contest this weekend. Andy and Cassandra have to prepare an entire dinner meal tomorrow within 90 minutes, and they will be judged based on their knife skills, plating, and the dish’s taste. Even though Andy’s already been accepted into Le Cordon Bleu of Dallas, he’s still nervous about the competition. He’s been cooking the same cream of mushroom soup, glazed carrots, buttered broccoli, and sautéed chicken for the last three weeks.
Faye Blackmon works twelve-hour days helping her kids prepare for serious cooking competitions like the upcoming Skills USA. “You don’t want to see us next week. We’ll be here tearing our hair out,” she warns.
When the school year’s over, Blackmon’s finally going to take it easy. She plans on visiting Budapest and running her own little business. “It’s going to be hard to leave, but I think it’s time.”