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CPI students serve Gov. Wolf a gourmet meal

CPI culinary student Eli Lipscomb serves a salad to Penn State graduate student Eric Farmer as part of the dinner hosed by CPI students and staff at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg on Monday, April 11, 2016.
CPI culinary student Eli Lipscomb serves a salad to Penn State graduate student Eric Farmer as part of the dinner hosed by CPI students and staff at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg on Monday, April 11, 2016. For the CDT

A group of high school students from the culinary program of the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology went to the Governor’s Residence on Monday to cook dinner for the governor, first lady and guests from their home county.

Students from Bellefonte, Bald Eagle and Penns Valley area high schools came prepared to put their best dishes forward.

And Centre County educational administrators and legislators came to try them.

CPI President Richard Makin said he was excited, proud and “maybe a little nervous” to see his students prepare dinner for the governor.

But at the end of the dinner, all he had to say was, “Job well done!”

The students prepared a Waldorf salad with an entree of rack of lamb, minted couscous and roasted spring asparagus — not to mention the hors d’oeuvre and dessert.

“This is a milestone in your career,” Makin said to the students. “This is something you’re going to look back on. We are so proud of you.”

Hank Yeagley, chairman of the CPI board of trustees, said in his 19 years on the board, this was the first time CPI students have come to the Governor’s Residence.

“It’s really awesome,” he said. “It’s such a great opportunity to show off our students.”

We just came to do what we do every day — and that’s cook. It’s just somewhere different, and for someone pretty important.

CPI chef Tim Beckenbaugh

First lady Frances Wolf said the students at CPI reached out to her and Gov. Tom Wolf and offered to cook for them.

“We are so honored to have them,” she said. “It’s very important to highlight education programs like that and let people know they exist.”

Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said the students were the first to ever cook for the governor.

“When they’re older, it will be even more important than it is now,” he said.

Back in the kitchen, however, the students showed no sign of nerves: They were relaxed, smiling and doing what they love.

CPI chef Tim Beckenbaugh said the dinner was three years in the making and his students were prepared.

“The students got to see this go from a brainstorming activity to the meal in front of you tonight,” he said.

He said the students, with his help, came up with the menu themselves and were able to execute it.

“We just came to do what we do every day — and that’s cook,” Beckenbaugh said. “It’s just somewhere different, and for someone pretty important.”

Right before serving the dessert dish — a deconstructed s’more — student Ashton Walker said the night was going well.

“It’s great experience,” she said simply, busy with her craft. “It’s an awesome opportunity.”

The young chefs looked professional and in their element, in spite of the distinguished crowd waiting to taste their final products.

Barry Crumlich, the governor’s executive chef, said the night went smoothly — despite all of the extra cooks in the kitchen.

“It was really great,” he said. “I was really impressed by what they could do as high school students.”

Gov. Wolf said he was honored to have the students come and cook for him.

“Everyone here (from Centre County) was very proud,” Wolf said. “And everyone from Harrisburg was proud that you’re Pennsylvanians.”

Cate Hansberry: 814-235-3933, @catehans216

CPI students

Bald Eagle Area School District: Tess Bechdel, Kaitlyn Hall, Erica Krape, Alexi Nevel, Ashton Walker

Bellefonte Area School District: Sous chef Kelsey Park (alumna), Gillian Stewart, Bayli Watkins, Elisha Lipscomb

Penns Valley Area School District: Kyra Wolfhope

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