Many culinary schools or technical high schools that offer culinary programs require seniors to do a project -- sometimes called a capstone project -- to demonstrate all they have learned. For culinary arts students, the project is a chance to show off their budgeting, cooking and presentation skills and the knowledge they've obtained about food and nutrition.
In most cases, a major part of your project will be planning and preparing a menu. Choose a cuisine that interests you, and design your project around that. Perhaps you enjoy international food and would like to create a traditional Korean menu. Or maybe you want to whip up a Cajun feast. Think about where you live, your budget and which ingredients are in plentiful -- and fresh -- supply at the time you will prepare your project. Then analyze the meal. Your project should give an overview of the cost of materials, the nutritional value of the meal, how long it took to prepare and the tools needed to prepare it. You might even prepare meals from two different countries or areas of the United States -- perhaps a seafood meal from the Pacific Northwest and that Cajun feast -- and then compare and contrast the different aspects of the meal.
Focus on Nutition
Obesity is a big problem in our country, especially in poorer populations, because it is often less expensive to buy processed foods than fresh fruits and vegetables. Create a grocery list that a family of four on a tight budget could use to shop for nutritious, healthy foods rather than junk food. Include ingredients that can be used in different ways and purchased inexpensively in bulk, such as potatoes. Another idea along these lines is to create a monthlong school lunch menu that appeals to children but is affordable for schools and is nutritious.
Perform an Experiment
Come up with a food-based theory and test it. For example, you might wonder if food seems to taste better when it is attractively presented rather than just tossed together onto a plate. Test your theory on your family and friends. The more people you can test it on, the more valid your results will be, but this will depend on your budget. Take lots of pictures, and then present your findings with the use of a slide show software program. See if you can find some professional research that backs up your findings.
Do Some Research
Think about what is important in food trends right now and plan a research project around it. For example, organic foods are gaining in popularity, but just how "organic" they are depends in large part on what organization is doing the certifying and setting the standards. Or talk about the rise in popularity of farmers markets and co-op produce deliveries; analyze whether or not the consumer is actually saving money, getting a better deal or gaining higher-quality food when they partake of these options rather than going to a nearby grocery store.
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