For the past two weeks, culinary students at all of the Shawnee Mission high schools have been hard at work around Broadmoor Bistro. Up to the day before Thanksgiving, they’re baking and cooking dishes and desserts from scratch and selling them for their SkillsUSA fundraiser, “Everything But the Turkey.”
So far, the SkillsUSA Broadmoor Chapter has raised more than $10,000 — more than half of the chapter’s goal of $15,000 to $20,000 — during their 10th annual Thanksgiving fundraiser. They’ve baked and cooked side dishes, pastries and pies for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sales began two weeks ago and stopped today at noon. Those who have purchased dishes have been picking them up over the past few days.
Reis Miller, a junior at Shawnee Mission Northwest and president of the SkillsUSA Broadmoor Chapter, said funds raised during “Everything But the Turkey” go toward the Shawnee Mission students’ expenses with competing in SkillsUSA state and national competitions in culinary arts, baking, restaurant service and table service.
“We’re basically producing everything from scratch, handmade,” Miller said, adding that they sold roughly 100 of each food item.
‘Stressful, demanding, organized, fun’
Most of the students are SkillsUSA members, although a few have simply stepped in to help out as part of their culinary classes. Each of the five Shawnee Mission schools provided 30 student volunteers on successive days to help in the kitchen last week.
Mikayla McGee, a senior at Shawnee Mission North and secretary of the SkillsUSA Broadmoor Chapter, who has also been hard at work this week at the bistro, said the loss of a loved one spurred her on to develop her culinary skills.
“I recently lost someone very close to me, and he was my number one supporter in the kitchen, so now I have a little bit more drive,” McGee said. She plans to join the culinary program at Johnson County Community College.
“It has been very stressful and demanding, but very organized and fun,” she said of the past few weeks at Broadmoor Bistro. “Very good learning experiences and bonding going on between the (SkillsUSA) officers and students.”
Chef Jonathon Dallen, who manages events and dining room for the bistro, said he and the other staff “take a step back” during the fundraiser and let students run the show, including taking orders, handling sales and food prepwork, dealing with issues when they arise and, of course, every step in food production.
“They’ve been here every day, worked a lot of grueling hours with us,” Dallen said. “They’re not getting paid, of course. To be a part of this, it is a very demanding fundraiser and a very demanding job, for sure.”
Participating in the fundraiser and SkillsUSA prepares many of the students for the culinary world and hospitality industry.
Miller, who is planning to go onto culinary school after graduating, said he was lucky last year to cook and bake alongside his fellow classmates and raise thousands of dollars for their chapter, including scholarship funding.
“I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to be able to compete and have this opportunity in which we are given to better ourselves and get us ready to go in the industry,” Miller said. “What we’re doing here is incredible compared to your normal class. You gain way more experience, and it’s just very inspiring.”