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BOCES students put culinary skills to the test

Submitted Photo The BOCES Culinary Arts students work on their gingerbread houses.

By ANTHONY DOLCE

adolce@observertoday.com

Every year, David Caccamise’s junior and senior culinary arts/hospitality arts students at the E2CCB LoGuidice Educational Center have a festive competition around the holiday season, where they try constructing the best gingerbread house possible.

And despite the fact 2020 isn’t a normal year, the show must go on, and the gingerbread houses must be built.

This year, in many other ways, is different for the class though. While Caccamise encourages his students to maximize their creativity, restrictions on his class forced him to reconsider his normal methods.

“Half class the class meets Mondays and Tuesdays, we go totally remote Wednesday, and then Thursday and Friday I have the other kids,” Caccamise said. “I only have them twice a week as opposed to five. It makes it tough, because once they get rolling with ideas, I don’t see them for five days.”

While the kids normally have a much larger canvas on which to build their house, this year their 2-foot-by-2-foot space was reduced to a 15-inch circle. In addition, Caccamise provided the kids with a template of what their house should look like. Caccamise was originally concerned that this template would reduce the variance in his student’s houses but his kids proved him wrong.

“I typically let them do whatever they want as long as they can make it and dream it, but I gave everyone the same house pattern, which I normally don’t like to do,” Caccamise said. “But I was surprised to find out that even though they all had the same pattern, no one had the same house. Everyone took it in different directions.”

Normally his student’s creations would encompass anything from fire trucks, to churches, to ice rinks and skyscrapers, but due to the time constraints they all had to work with the house Caccamise provided, but the students instead got creative with what to add to the house.

“They added porches, chimneys, window decorations, paths, ponds, all kinds of cool stuff,” Caccamise said.

While Caccamise considered not doing the project at all due to the time constraints, he elected to continue the tradition, because of how much it means to him and his kids.

“I didn’t want to let COVID put a damper on the gingerbread houses,” Caccamise said. “It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and they love it too. It lets them use their imagination and creativity, and they get to build something from ground zero.”

Students are all graded on a rubric, which includes the following categories: Use of materials, creativity, overall appearance and holiday spirit. Once everyone finishes their house, it normally results in a large staff party where members of the staff vote on the houses they believe to be the best. While the large gathering couldn’t happen, the winners were still selected thanks to a virtual meeting.

“We sent something out virtually to faculty and staff to vote on,” Caccamise said. “It’s a bummer we can’t do our normal party but we’re doing our best.

The winners of this year’s Gingerbread House contest were:

¯ Juniors, first place: Conor Clary (Brocton) and Anthony Fitz-Gerald (Fredonia); second place: Kennedy Duke (Pine Valley), Abigail Ellis (Pine Valley), Julia Estus (Cassadaga), Aryanna Sworn (Westfield), Ayanna Stephany (Fredonia); third place: Mason Bistrisky (Brocton), Zachary Roberts (Fredonia).

¯ Seniors, first place: Nilmary Rodriguez-Pagan (Dunkirk), April Fleck (Westfield); second place, Ariana Albanesius (Westfield), Alex Johnson (Westfield); third place: Connor Rankin (Fredonia), Cameron Williamson (Gowanda).

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