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Catering Students to Prepare Food at Growers Market

Frederick W. Becker, dean of hospitality%3B and catering students at the Williamsport Growers Market last fall.Students from a catering class in the School of Hospitality at Pennsylvania College of Technology will prepare food for the public at the Williamsport Outdoor Growers Market on Sept. 10.

According to Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of food and hospitality management/culinary arts, the students will create a menu for the event based on the products available at the market. They will benefit not only from the experience of planning the event, but also from building a relationship with the growers who provide the ingredients they will be using, gaining immediate feedback from customers and learning the value of using the freshest ingredients.

Anne Nordell, president of the Williamsport Outdoor Growers Association, said people often ask when the Penn College students will be at the market. She estimated that the students served more than 2,500 plates last year.

“It’s just a really wonderful community event,” she said. “It’s a great way for people to experience good, locally grown food prepared by culinary students. I think it’s a great experience for the students. Often it is the class’s first catering event, and they’re using a really high-quality product. And they get a lot of positive reinforcement from the customers. At the end of the day every year, the students thank us for allowing them to do this.”

The students will prepare food at the market from 8 a.m. to noon. The growers market is held at municipal parking lot G, bounded by Fifth, Hepburn and Pine streets and Little League Boulevard. The ingredients that students prepare for patrons are donated by the growers and by Helmrich’s Seafood, Nordell said.

She said it is also fun for many of the producers to see their products prepared by a fine-dining chef and his students, in a way that they often do not have time to do.

Participating students are: Jamie M. Boucher, Prince Frederick, Md.; Jonathan M. Coldren, Camp Hill; Justin A. Demi, Williamsport; Matthew W. Dickey, Franklin; Mary F. Grantham, Brookeville, Md.; Rachel S. Hall, Altoona; Phillip E. Heath, Elizabethtown; Tana B. Hunsinger, Beavertown; Andrew M. Molino, Muncy; Renee L. Shawver, McClure; Andrea E. Sites, Myerstown; Chelsea H. Taylor, Setauket, N.Y.; Mark J. Ulicny, Zionsville; Matthew G. Wessner, Kutztown; and Jennifer D. Woodley, Ebensburg.

The Williamsport Outdoor Growers Market Association vendors sell produce and other food items each Saturday, mid-June through the end of October, at the downtown location.

Ditchfield’s class alsowill attend the Fall Harvest Festival in the Hunt Country Vineyards and Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes from Sept 30-Oct 2.

For more information about Penn College’s culinary programs, call (570) 327-4505, send e-mail or visitthe school’s Web site .

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