Chadron Culinary Arts 2 students pose with past Chadron High Culinary student Derek Ray at his restaurant, Earls. He currently is managing the Cherry Creek restaurant in Denver.

After a semester of fundraising by cooking and baking a variety of goods, the Culinary Arts 2 students met their goal and was able to make the Denver Culinary Field Trip on April 28-29. In just a short 36 hours, students, instructor and a dedicated chaperone, Marleta Hastings, made a trip to be remembered by all. Sunday morning, two vans were filled with excited students and headed south. 
Our first stop was a tour and dining at the Cheesecake Factory Restaurant in downtown Denver.  Students were guided by the general manager through the restaurant and discussed history and daily operations of the beautiful establishment. 

Dinner was then ordered and devoured by a group that made sure they had room in their bellies for this delicious meal.  No disappointment happened here! Especially when it was dessert (CHEESECAKE) time!

To walk off our wonderful meal, we treated ourselves with tickets to the Denver Aquarium. Such a fun and relaxing atmosphere. A couple of hours were spent watching the many species of fish, reptiles and birds. Some were lucky enough to go into the back with an employee to see the otters up close. Others fed and petted the stingrays. But there was disappointment by all when the sleeping tiger - well - just kept sleeping!

Our Sunday evening ended at our hotel, full and exhausted. 
Monday morning we were all up and ready to go on our next adventure! Our first stop was a tour of the International Culinary Art Institute - this place was so awesome and interesting that the photographer forgot to take pictures! oops ....

At the last minute, contact was made with a past Chadron High culinary student, Derek Ray. Derek manages an upscale restaurant in the Cherry Creek shopping area of Denver. He invited us to his restaurant, Earls, to show share his restaurant history and operations and to eat lunch. Chadron culinary students were right in the alley of the kitchen, in the coolers and prep areas with Derek to see up close, top notch equipment and ingredients being prepared. We were very impressed with not only the restaurant, but also with Derek. It was great for current students to see a past culinary arts student in such a prestigious and successful role. We were seated amongst the beautiful decor of this upscale dining facility. The food and service were wonderful and once again we left full and satisfied.

Our tours ended with a sweet tour of Happy Cakes Cupcake shop. This little shop was voted as #8 in the top 10 cupcake shops by The Today Show. The tour included a wonderful story of how the business came to be. This story gives hope to young entrepreneurs that would love to have a small business some day. The tour ended with a mini cupcake treat for everyone, mmmmm.... but we couldn't stop there, almost everyone on the tour had to buy one more, well maybe two .... or three? So many flavors and so much success all in one place. It was great to visit after one of our biggest fundraisers for this trip was selling gourmet cupcakes - and we thought a total of 400 cupcakes were a lot to make - they make 100 to 400 cupcakes a day, depending on the day and outside orders.

Almost exactly 36 hours later, we arrive back in Chadron. Fast and furious? yes. Educational and delicious? priceless!

Mr. Mack