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Fulton superintendent puts on chef's hat to teach life lessons | Education

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Fulton superintendent puts on chef's hat to teach life lessons

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- The guest chef in Alpharetta High School's Culinary Arts class began the class by instructing students on cooking preparation techniques and assigning duties.

"Go ahead and rinse off the (fresh) basil," he said to one student. "Take the leaves off. We don't want to keep the stock on the basil because it's a bit bitter."

Nearby, he had another student cutting tomatoes and a third chopping garlic.

The chef honed his skills in the kitchen while growing up with a dad who owned eight Italian restaurants in Florida.

"As a kid I started bussing tables after school and on weekends," he said. "My dad had come to the United States with very few resources and yet had developed a pretty interesting pathway for himself through the restaurant business."

While it is clear he knows his way around an industrial kitchen and loves cooking, the restaurant business is not his day job.

The guest chef is Fulton County's top educator. Superintendent Robert Avossa took off his administrator hat to put on a chef's jacket for a couple hours to work with the advanced culinary arts class and help prepare students for the workplace.

"The entire business of running a restaurant, it's customer service. It's getting a sense and gauging, how do you manage inventory," Avossa said. "At the end of the day, it's about profitability and making sure that you're running a successful business."

According to Avossa, the lessons in culinary arts apply to more than the restaurant industry.

"It also teaches you a lot about teamwork, problem solving and logistics," he said. "That's what I do every day."

Culinary Arts Teacher Mary Murphy said most of the students in the class still don't know what career they want to pursue, so the superintendent 's relationship with the restaurant industry offers a meaningful message for them.

"They can see how (Avossa has) grown up in it, even though he's not in the restaurant business right now," said Mary Murphy, Culinary Arts Teacher at Alpharetta High. "He still uses it. He's learned so much through it." 

"It's so good to know that we can be so successful, and you don't even have to be in the culinary industry, but we could start there," said Tyler Trosclair, a junior who is taking culinary arts classes and wants to go become a baker.

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