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Gourmet Dinner at Palm Glades Academy

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Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 9:50 am

   My job at the News Leader got Patty and I an invite to the Eagles Nest Fall Dinner sponsored by the Culinary Club at Palm Glades Preparatory Academy (PGA).  As we walked in, it was good to rekindle an old friendship with now Chef Oscar Roque.

  I met Oscar many years ago at Princeton Christian Academy where our kids attended school but in those days Oscar wore a wet suit as a recovery diver for the Miami Police Department not an apron and a Chefs’ hat.  After 28 years of police work, Oscar retired and went back to school finishing a degree in education.   He began teaching Criminal Justice at PGA, while studying at Miami Dade College Culinary Institute.

  By chance a group of students formed a club and turned on old volleyball court into a garden.  Soon, fresh salads were made available to the class. When the club had grown beyond imagination, Principal Archalena Coats sat down with Oscar creating a Culinary Arts Program. Now Chef Roque heads a group of over 100 students that educates students about all aspects of the food industry.  This program is recognized by the Dade County School System and earns up to three credits for those seeking related college degrees.

  Under Chef Oscar's direction, and competing against much larger programs such as well-known Robert Morgan and Ferguson High Schools, PGA is receiving recognition for this newly formed program which operates under a tight budget with limited equipment.

  As for our four-course feast, it started with a Fresh Oriental Salad with homemade Ginger Dressing.  This was followed by Pan Fried Chicken accompanied with a delightful dipping sauce.  The third course consisted of Teriyaki Chicken, stir fried vegetables and garlic noodles.  To close out the meal, a banana/Nutella fried eggroll with Chocolate Ganache plus homemade orange sorbet was served. Needless to say, everything was expertly prepared and served by the students. And delicious.

   Chef Oscar explained, “These students have cost down to the penny.  Everything served tonight was made fresh.  I am very proud of what they are accomplishing.

  My departing words were, “You know Oscar, the proof is on the fork.  You did such a fine job on this dinner…make sure you sign Patty and I up for next year.”  Oscar smiled and replied, “Don’t worry, you’ll be on the list, but thank the students, not me, they are the ones making me look good.”

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