Culinary Seniors Get Served for a Change


Vanessa Bueti, a senior at Walter Panas High School, said she knew the Tech Center at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES was for her the first time she visited. As a little girl, Bueti had spent as much time as possible in the kitchen with her mother. By her teens, people were asking her to bake for them and offering to pay her for the work.

Now, as she approaches graduation, Bueti, who was part of the winning team at the ProStart competition for New York State, will attend Johnson and Wales University in the Fall to study Pastry, Baking and Food Management.

“BOCES not only helped me to become a better chef,” Bueti told guests at the Culinary Senior Luncheon Thursday. “It helped me to become a better person. It helped me to come out of my shell and meet new people.” She said it also helped her sharpen her culinary skills and reaffirmed that she wanted to make a career in the culinary field.

Ashley Sherman, a Mahopac High School senior who also spoke at the luncheon, said she, too, had learned more than kitchen skills at BOCES, making friends, gaining assertiveness and focus and discovering her career path.

“BOCES will always have a very special place in my heart and I am grateful for this amazing opportunity,” Sherman said, adding that next year she will attend the Culinary Institute of America to continue her studies.

Sharlene Bass, math teacher for the Culinary program, said “If you were invited here today by one of our students, please know that they chose you because you have made a positive impact on his or her life. You stood out as someone who is trusted, supportive, an advocate, confidante and tutor. We honor you and our students on this special day.”

The Senior Culinary/Hospitality Luncheon is a Tech Center tradition in which the junior students prepare and serve a luncheon to the graduating seniors and their guests. Bass took the opportunity to single out students who had recently participated in culinary competitions. Competing in the ProStart Competition in the culinary section were Skyler Erenber of Somers, Autumn Jacobs of Peekskill and Ashley Sherman of Mahopac. They were required to prepare a three-course meal using only a camp burner and no running water.

In the same competition, the management team comprising Vanessa Bueti, Kate Campbell andChelsea Cintron, all of Walter Panas, placed first in the state. Their task was to come up with a restaurant concept, build it from the ground up and pitch the idea to a panel of judges.

PNW BOCES Superintendent Dr. James Ryan, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen and board members Anita Feldman, Mary Cay Nilsen and Board President Richard Kreps were also on hand to celebrate the students’ accomplishments.